Peoria City Council passed its consent agenda with no discussion and moved on to new business on Aug. 24. Councilor Andre Allen discussed pavement preservation project coming up for Rolling Acres in District Four. Councilor John Kelly complimented the First District tours taking place on Saturdays through September sponsored by Councilor Denise Jackson and Alex Sierra, Peoria Park District trustee for the Southern District. Tours start at Trewyn Park at 10 a.m. and tours area by bus to show needs of the area to all interested residents.
City Manager Patrick Urich reported citizen response to on-line survey on how to use Covid Relief Funds was very good, with 836 people completing survey, as well as giving comments. City staff will compile responses which will be reported to Council at September 7 meeting. The Council will hold a policy session September 6 and introduce the budget process for upcoming year.
There was one citizen who addressed the Council: Lashandra Riley spoke in favor of saving Harrison School building which is scheduled for demolition. She also asked what can be done to provide grocery service on south side of Peoria, citing issues for residents with transportation and quality of foods available for reasonable cost. Mayor Rita Ali offered to meet with Ms. Riley to discuss these issues after the Council meeting.
——— Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting face-to-face Aug. 12. All were present except Chairman Andrew Rand and Member Matt Windish; three members participated via phone— Rachel Reliford, Brian Elsasser and Paul Rosenbohm. The regular agenda was very short with the seven items on the consent agenda passing unanimously with no discussion.
Two rezoning petitions were approved without opposition. One permitted a tavern to open within the Madison Park shopping center and the other waived a public water supply in favor of a private well in a single lot subdivision in Rosefield Township. A third rezoning request in Radnor Township was denied on the recommendation of the Land Use Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The petitioner had requested rezoning to permit the creation of a buildable lot. However, it was denied since the lot would have been located in a flood plain.
The only other item of new business was a resolution from the Executive Committee recommending approval of $200,000 to settle a legal case related to a fall by a nursing home resident. It was approved on a vote of 15-0, with one abstention.
A proclamation was approved on a 13-3 vote extending the Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19 in Peoria County.
——— Jim Runyon, Observer
On August 10, 2021, Council spent much time discussing whether or not to charge fee to businesses who currently dispose of old tires.
The City currently spends many staff hours removing old tires that have been disposed of improperly, especially by unknown persons on the south side of Peoria, as well as incurring cost of disposal. The resolution put before the Council would have required all businesses that dispose of tires to register and pay $50 fee in addition to keeping records of tire disposal for review by the city staff.
One area of concern was providing means to cover cost of staff time, both administrative and legal, in enforcing this measure. General feeling was that fines charged for improper record keeping and illegal disposal would help cover City costs. City Manager Patrick Urich will reach out to the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office to collaborate with prosecution of illegal dumping. Councilor Sid Ruckreigel asked Urich to reach out to the Peoria County Board to collaborate efforts on management of tire disposal as this is an issue for the County, as well.
It was recognized that most businesses follow proper disposal. A substitute motion removing the fee was eventually passed 7-4, with Councilors Beth Jensen, Denise Jackson, Chuck Grayeb and Andre Allen voting no.
Interim Community Development Director Joseph Dulin reminded the Council of the Tireless Project. This project collects unwanted tires from city residents throughout the year. Residents can dispose up to 20 tires, with the first ten free, then $1 per tire. Businesses may not participate. The schedule for the year can be found at www.appreciatepeoria.com/opportunities. The next scheduled day is October 30.
—— Connie Romanus, Observer
The annual meeting began with Chief Judge Kate Gorman swearing in newly reappointed Commissioners Matt Bartolo and James Manning. New officers included Jim Manning as chairman, Mark Ketterer as vice-chairman, Sandra Burke as treasurer, and Matt Bartolo as secretary.
Executive Director Tom Bride gave an update on the Request for Proposal for a new voting system. He has received valuable feedback from the county’s IT department. He is trying not to have it look like they are after a particular company. He expects to send out the Request within a week. During the next two weeks, he expects to be answering questions, and should be getting proposals in a month. Staff and the County will then go over them before a recommendation is brought to the Board. Final payment should be made after the June 28 election to ensure that the system works as projected. Funding for the system comes from the County’s capital fund, not the Commission’s budget.
Placement of voting drop boxes was deferred until next month. Director Bride wants to hold discussions with party leaders as to placement of the boxes. He prefers to have them located in public buildings.
Under New Business, Dr. Pinto announced that he will be moving from the area this fall. Judge Gorman is aware of this and will need to name a replacement for him.
Under Public Comment, Director Bride very capably explained to a skeptical observer that no voting systems in the United States are connected to the internet.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
A quorum of the Board of Commisioners of PHA was present. Jackie McGavin, Housing Voucher Specialist, was introduced as new employee. Jackie Newman, CEO reported staff continuing to complete HUD required documents to meet deadline for financing of Taft redevelopment project this month. The next phase will be demolition of existing structures prior to start of new construction of homes. PHA staff continue to meet with local building trades and training of eligible residents for project.
Chairman Cannon asked Lt. McCall, Security Chief, to report on incident that occurred near Taft location in early hours past weekend resulting in gunshots in area. Concerns expressed over coverage hours of security staff contracted by PHA, as well as proximity of liquor store nearby. Current security staff shift ends at 1:00 A.M. Lt. McCall to report back on issue.
During Community Comments, two residents of River West complex shared concerns regarding disruptive behavior of non-residents, gunshots in area and litter. Safety issues included recent incident of 15 youths walking through complex, kicking in doors, threatening behavior. They also expressed concerns about lack of lighting in area between buildings. Chairman Cannon responded that he would work with PHA staff and Security to investigate this issue and identify strategies to manage issue. Chair Cannon will also meet with new Peoria City Police Chief. CEO Newman encouraged residents to call local police for incidents.
In other business, the Board approved updates to PHA Board Policy Manual to be compliant with Illinois and Federal law regarding asking residents about income status and hours worked. Collection loss write-off of $32.172 for uncollectable rent payments. CEO Search Committee will be reviewing vendors for applicants.
The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, September 7, 2021 at 4:30 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
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