The Observer Reports were written by volunteer observers of the Greater Peoria League of Women Voters. The reports are presented here as a public service. They are in no way “official” but are intended solely as an informal means of enabling citizens to monitor the meetings of local government bodies. Every effort has been made to make these reports accurate; however, like all materials of this nature, they are subject to human error.
Council approved request for 2023 Annual Action Plan for grant allocation of $2.8 million to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Peoria Police Chief, Eric Echevarria, gave overview of presentation on ShotSpotter program. Link to presentation can be found in meeting minutes. Jacob Moushon, Network Management Analyst, discussed ability to scan shell casings to create ballistic fingerprint and link them to multiple shootings though data obtained in existing record management system.
Using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), data can identify if weapons used in other shootings, leading to identification of common suspects, vehicles and other information to provide investigative leads. The Peoria Police have used ShotSpotter program since 2013. There is another program on the market, Flock Raven Safety. Chief Echavarria related Raven program technology was not as advanced as ShotSpotter. Three-year renewal of ShotSpotter contract at $300,984.00 pr year passed unanimously.
PPD policies regarding this program are available: www.peoriagov.org/884/General-Orders-Policies-and-Procedures
Other items of interest:
- Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board held a special meeting on April 19 to amend its budget. All members were present.
A Health Committee meeting immediately preceded the full board meeting since the budget amendment was related to the construction of a new Health and Human Services Campus. County Administrator Scott Sorrell and Public Health Administrator Monica Hendrickson led the board through a slide presentation reviewing the steps leading to the decision to build a new health and human service building at the current location on Sheridan Ave, and the need for a budget amendment to cover the higher than originally anticipated costs. A link to the full presentation can be found here.
The anticipated full cost of the new building with all equipment and furnishings is $22,389,416. More than $14 million is provided through federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds with the remainder provided primarily through Health Department funds and the General Funds. A budget amendment was necessary due to increased costs associated with inflation. The resolution asked for an additional $7.8 million above the previously budgeted amount. There will be no need for the county to buy bonds to cover the construction costs.
The budget amendment passed in the 13 member Health Committee on a vote of 11-2 with members Rieker and Elsasser casting “no” votes. With committee approval the amendment then went to the full board where a two-thirds vote — 12 “yes” votes — were necessary for passage. Following board discussion and comments by Coroner Jamie Harwood and Regional Superintendent Beth Crider, the full board approved the budget amendment on a vote of 15-3 with Members Steven Rieker, Brian Elsasser and Paul Rosenbohm casting “no” votes. The board thanked Member Terry Ruhland for acting as the board’s representative throughout the design phase, and he indicated he would remain in that role during the demolition and construction phases.
——— Jim Runyon, Observer
Peoria County Board met April 13 regular meeting with all members present except for Chairman James Dillon and Member Brian Elsasser. Vice Chair Sharon Williams led the meeting.
Regular business included approval of revisions to the county’s zoning code related to solar and wind facilities. A recently enacted state law requires that all counties bring their codes into alignment with the state code. Two zoning cases in Jubilee Township were also approved. The final three items addressed PCAPS:
Proclamations were read recognizing the 50th Anniversary of Northwoods Mall, the 100th anniversary of the George Washington Carver Community Center, and the 125th anniversary of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. April was recognized as National County Government Month, and two weeks in May were recognized for Correctional Officers and for Police. The Peoria County Farm Bureau recognized the county board with its “Allies in Agriculture” award. The Gift of Hope award recognized the Coroner’s staff for their efforts to secure organ and tissue donations.
There was one citizen’ remark by Joyce Blumenshine on behalf of the Sierra Club recognizing the county’s intent to intervene in a proposed CO2 pipeline, and encouraging the board to consider a county-wide moratorium on C02 pipelines.
Among items unanimously approved on the Consent Agenda:
You can link to the agenda and video here: Agenda & Video
——— Jim Runyon, Observer
Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners met for their regular monthly meeting on April 11. During public comments, several citizens noted problems with the use of a stylus during the April 4 election. Most of the speakers were either election judges or poll watchers. They had trouble with verification of signatures and preferred the use of pen and paper. The commission will be getting feedback from the judges in a presentation at a later date.
There was an approximately 16% turnout for that election. There were more ballots mailed than cast in person. About 8,200 people voted on election day, and 2,800 voted early. Certification was set for April 19, and Martha Ross is expected to win the District 1 School Board election in Peoria.
—— Irene Pritzker, Observer
Meeting opened with public hearing to approve 2023-2024 budget for town of City of Peoria, as well as appropriation ordinance for 2023-2024. Township has reserves to cover 15 months expenses, slightly more than $3,000,000.00.
Township provides General Assistance to sixty people and Emergency Services to 150-175 households. A resolution was passed to make donations to Friendship House, Tri-County Urban League, Center for Prevention of Abuse and Heartland Clinic for specified services.
Supervisor of assessments explained change in outside independent auditors due to favorable bid by Clifton, Larson, Allen, LLP. 2024 Annual meeting of Town of City of Peoria set or April 19, 2024. Time and location to be determined.
Other highlights of agenda:
Peoria City Council meets 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 6:00 P.M. at Peoria City Hall; you can view at cable access channel 22, in person or view video online.
Agenda available at: https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
- Connie Romanus, Observer
Council members approved consent agenda, after removing two items for discussion. A Professional Services Agreement with Roadway Asset Services in the amount of $109,778 for pavement condition index update 2023 was deferred to April 11 to allow time for additional information to be presented.
Councilors approved an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Greater Peoria Sanitary District in support of Pringle technologies for Haven on Farm Development with two abstentions (At-large members Sid Ruckriegel and Kiran Velpula) for conflict of interest.
Members of the Greater Peoria Leadership Council gave a presentation on talent attraction strategy. Doug Oberhelman, Misty Dykema and Laura Cullinan spoke on mission and history of Gilmore Foundation, identifying community partners and focus on recruitment and retention of talent. A website is being developed to communicate information and identify resources.
The 2022 annual report on Joint Commission on Racial Justice was presented by Chairman Tim Bertschy and Co-Chair Mary Peterson. They identified need to accelerate efforts for racial justice and equity and cited data collected by members of commission in areas of economic development and jobs, quality of life issues and impact on the community, as well as environmental justice in 61602, 61603, and 61605 zip codes. Plan for 2023 is to create historical record key indicators, Racial Equity Impact Assessment tool (REIA), collaborate with community partners, develop data driven strategic plan. A website is being developed to post information.
Director of Community Development Joe Dulen and Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill gave a presentation on use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for rehabilitation of Logan Park and Morton Square Park to provide more accessible playground area, basketball hoops, as well as access to free activities for qualified families for summer fun passes to Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Aquatic Center. Focus is improving quality of life in these neighborhoods. Council approved $875,000 in CBGB funds for these two projects.
Public Works Director Rick Powers requested approval of a professional services agreement with Cloudpoint Geospatial, Inc. for assessment management system to provide a holistic approach to planning infrastructure priorities over three-year period. Presentation made by Jonathon Hodel, representative of Cloudpoint Geospatial. Council approved funding in amount of $78,000 for 2023, $134,000 for 2024 and $13,000 for 2025.
Council approved temporary amendments to reduce fees and allow additional locations for mobile food vehicles and street and sidewalk vendors. Vote was 8-3, with Councilors Denis Cyr, Zach Oyler and Ruckriegel against.
In new business, Councilor Beth Jensen asked city staff to prepare resolution with opposition, as well as moratorium on proposed CO2 pipeline near southside of city. Councilor Denise Jackson expressed her concerns on this issue, as well, and asked for due diligence before any decisions made.
The Peoria City Council meets at 6 p.m. on second and fourth Tuesdays at City Hall. Meeting can also be viewed on Channel 22 cable access and video available online at city website.
For more information, check www.peoriagov.org
—— Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners met on Tuesday, March 14, with Commissioners Williamson and Timmes absent. During Public Comments, questions were raised about proof of address for college students and possible problems arising from the use of a stylus for signature identification.
The only unusual expenditure was the purchase of several printers for use on election day. Several broke after the November election when they fell in the truck returning them to the Election Commission.
The general election is moving along smoothly. Judge training is almost completed. There have already been over 200 early voters, which matches the 2019 election, and over 3000 mail in ballots have already been received.
Peoria County is looking into purchasing the building that houses the Election Commission.
- Irene Pritzker, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting on March 9th with all members present.
Regular business focused on approval of solar project developments and power purchase agreements between Peoria County and Hawk-Attollo, LLC. If proposed federal and state tax credit applications are approved, Hawk-Attollo would build, operate and maintain solar arrays at the County Highway
Department site and the Juvenile Detention Center. The county would buy electrical power back at a greatly reduced rate, and have options to purchase the arrays at specified times if desired. The tax credits are specific to projects located within designated environmental justice communities which if true of the juvenile center and highway department. These projects are aligned with the county’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Future projects are also envisioned for the jail and the yet-to-be constructed health and human service campus roof.
Proclamations were read recognizing the 125th anniversary of Bradley University and recognizing March 12th-18th as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.
There were three citizen’ remark’s all critical of an exclusion within the county employee health plan that excludes gender affirming care from coverage within the plan. All urged the board to learn more about gender-affirming care and to remove this exclusion in future health plans.
Among items approved/accepted from the Consent Agenda:
Links to the meeting agenda and video are here:
Jim Runyon, Observer
The Council met for a marathon session of over four hours. Some of highlights:
As always, you can access meeting agendas, minutes and video on website: www.peoriagov.org
- Connie Romanus, Observer
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