The Peoria City Council met July 13, 2021 with all Council members present except John Kelly.
City Manager Urich informed Councilors that a public engagement survey would be posted on the city’s website to invite residents to give input on how the city should spend remaining state and local Coronavirus relief funds.
The city was awarded $47,089,976, with $10,301,585 spent in June to eliminate need to issue cash bond and curtail furloughs for city employees. Three public hearings will be scheduled, as well, for public input with one being virtual. Dates for public hearings are:
July 26 at 6 p.m. live streamed on city u-tube channel;
August 1 at 6 p.m. at Peoria North Branch Library; and
August 12 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln Branch Library.
In addition, paper copies of the survey will be available at all Peoria Library locations. The survey will be available until 5 p.m. August 19. City Manager Urich will give an update on public input at the August 24 meeting. Funds must be committed to specific projects by the end of 2024 and funds spent by end of 2026.
Interim Corporation Counsel Peterson updated councilors on additional measures and consequences for tobacco, liquor and retail gasoline dealer licenses due to rise in violence at some businesses. Among the options are fines, suspension or revoking licenses. The council also discussed consequences on license holders for unpaid fines, and the effect proposed changes would have on majority of license holders who are not a cause for concern. The Council will discuss this issue again at the July 27 meeting.
Panhandling and solicitation concerns were addressed next. Councilor Grayeb thanked legal department staff for research on Federal law regarding these two issues. He referred to existing laws that would prevent pedestrians from standing in the street and that the city and police should work on plan to enforce these laws. Discussion included motivations for increase in panhandling, as well as, how this could affect local non-profit groups and safety issues of pedestrians. First Amendment rights and enforcing existing laws was concern. Counsel Peterson clarified that the Supreme Court has looked at panhandling and public safety as separate issues and gave examples of two municipalities addressing prohibition of pedestrian traffic at specific locations based on local data related to collision reports and statistics. A change in ordinance would prohibit all pedestrian traffic at specified intersections and would need to be enforced for all citizens equally. The council voted to receive and file the report.
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Election Commission met on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, with all commissioners present. They had a first discussion of the 2022 budget. It will have to be voted on during the August meeting before being submitted to the County Board. Executive Director Tom Bride expects some increases due to more Vote by Mail. There should be more money for election judges, including overtime, and more dropboxes. Some equipment is left over from 2020. Director Bride expects a 35-40% voter turnout in November of 2022 because of the new Vote by Mail law. He is concerned about a 100% increase in insurance because he not yet sure why this should be. The office has five full time and one part time employee.
The Request for Proposal for a new voting system will not affect the budget. That money comes from capital funds. Director Bride needs to sit down with IT from the County, then the attorney, and then the finance office before the RFP can be sent out.
Once redistricting is completed, the office will need to send out registration cards. It is anticipated that federal money will be available to pay for safer dropboxes and other security. Bride will check with both political parties before deciding on locations for the boxes—preferably in public locations such as libraries.
Chairman Matt Bartolo took a moment to publicly thank the League of Women Voters for helping to convince the County Board to pass the budget amendment allowing the Commission to spend the $19,000 left from the Tech and Civic Life Grant.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting via face-to-face format on July 8th with all present except Members Pastucha and Bryant. A proclamation was read by Chairman Rand recognizing David Tuttle, former Director of the Emergency Communications Center, upon his retirement in June 2021 following 38 years of service. The regular agenda was short with the four items on the consent agenda passing on a 15-1 vote.
Two rezoning petitions (one in Princeville Township and another in Medina) were approved without opposition.
A recommendation from the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and the County Administrator recommending approval of an appropriation of unused grant funds from the Center for Tech and Civic Life in the amount of $19,430 into the FY2021 Election Commission budget was approved on a 12-4 vote following a brief discussion that included one citizen’s comment and one member expressing opposition to the resolution. LWVGP President Terry Kohlbuss was present in support and had written a letter asking the County Board members to revise the budget to accept the no-strings-attached grant money. Peoria Election Executive Director Tom Bride and Election Commission Chairman Matt Bartolo were present to answer any questions from board members but none were asked.
A resolution was unanimously approved recommending approval of a permanent easement for the construction of an overflow spillway at the Peoria County Landfill #3. The Peoria City Council had already voted in favor of this same resolution.
Under Miscellaneous and Announcements, Administrator Sorrell and Member Salzer spoke to the recent dedication of the “Final Salute” statute dedicated on July 3rd. Member Salzer encouraged attendance at the upcoming HOI Fair. Member Dillon recognized LWVGP for again assigning an observer to their board meetings.
Jim Runyon, Observer
The Board of Commissioners of the PHA met virtually on July 6. Board meeting minutes from June 14, 2021 meeting were approved, as well as, minutes of board training meeting of April 23. The board approved a resolution to authorize and approve Taft Home Redevelopment closing documents. This was required to give CEO authority to submit these documents to keep Taft redevelopment project on target.
Chairman Cannon asked for an update from CEO Search Committee. Commissioner Heffner reported committee will be reviewing proposals from search firms and selecting firms for presentation overview to committee.
Commissioner Brown reported there were no issues from Resident and Safety Committee. July 4th holiday was uneventful and no issues reported. The regular meeting was adjourned at 4:51 P.M.
A special meeting of the PHA Development Corporation, a not-for-profit entity, was held immediately after the regular monthly meeting. Melissa Huffstedtler, Deputy Director of PHA, presented an overview of the PHADC. The corporation will meet quarterly, with special meetings as needed and will serve as a partner in the Taft redevelopment project, as well as, the purchase of vacant property for future and/or redevelopment for the PHA. By-laws were presented and approved by the board, as well as, resolutions to authorize and approve Taft conversion project and Taft rental assistance conversion project. Meeting adjourned at 5:01 PM.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be August 2, 2021 at 4:30 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
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