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.
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting January 13th with all present. There were no Citizen’s Remarks.
The Consent agenda passed on a vote of 17-1 without discussion. Among items approved were:
Jim Runyon, Observer
Links to the meeting agenda and video are here:
Public hearing was held regarding disconnection of property Parcel ID 13-23-326-005. Michael Fleming, attorney for property owners, spoke to council requesting property be disconnected from city of Peoria. Property annexed to city in 1993 with Charter Oak development. Adjacent parcels known as Ravina. Property owners asking for parcels that remain undeveloped and without access to roads be disconnected from city of Peoria and allow land to fall under county authorization. City staff have recommended to deny this request. After discussion, Council members voted to defer to January 11, 2022 meeting.
Communication from City Manager and Corporation Counsel with a first reading of request new ordinance amending City code regarding automated traffic violations. This is prompted by request from Peoria Public Schools who have seen an increase in motorists driving around school buses when stopped with their stop arm out. Buses can be equipped with a camera on their stop arm; photos can be shared with Peoria Police Department and violation ticket issued.
Councilors voted 9 to 2 to remove four am liquor license zone in Warehouse District, with exception of existing license for Status night club. Councilor Jackson expressed concern regarding the checkered past of this business with fights and shooting; she requested background information from Legal Counsel on this issue.
It was noted that: $4,038,664.00 for Pension Obligation funding; and assignment of $500,000.00 from the General Fund for 2022 and 2023 was identified for potential due diligence on the purchase of the local water system.
Under new business, Councilor Riggenbach commended Mayor Ali for her leadership in reaching out to Representatives Gordon-Booth and Ryan Spain to engage in discussion on Public Safety Pension System in Illinois. This would include reaching out to cities, such as Rockford, Springfield and Bloomington to unite to encourage state to modify the current structure.
December 28 meeting was canceled; next Council meeting January 11,2022. Minutes and video of meeting available at www.peoriagov.org
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Election Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, with Mark Ketterer sitting in for Chairman Jim Manning, who was absent. There were a few public comments covering some of the topics that were later discussed.
The Board voted to approve the ability of the Executive Director to negotiate and enter a contract, with the advice of the State’s Attorney’s Office, on updates to the ePollbook system. This would include services, license and support, warranty, and maintenance. The contract would include 130 pollbooks, 120 printers, and ten years of support for the Microsoft software. Costs would be $326,734 for the first year and $26,700-30,000 for the next nine years. According to Director Bride, It would be cheaper to do “on demand” ballots rather than printing many (differing) preprinted paper ballots. The new system will also make set up much easier. This expenditure should be approved by the County Board at their January meeting.
Director Bride presented two bids for the purchase of Voting Booths. One from Elite for $41,697, but they would have to build a sample, since they do not have any in stock that meet the Commission’s specs. They projected 90 to 120 days until delivery, but their booths are made overseas. This could be a problem if there is any delay in delivery. A second bid came from Election Source for $58,618.41, but it included freight. Their projected delivery was 24 weeks, but every thing is made in the U.S. The Board chose the bid from Election Source, but requested any contract include possible penalties if there is late delivery. A back up plan for the June election is in the works.
Staff is working on creating new precincts. The State passed a law in November requiring precincts to contain approximately 1200 voters each. This will mean a number of current precincts will be combined and others will be made smaller.
The question of whether the Commission should pay return postage for Vote by Mail was tabled until all members of the Commission are present.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting December 9 with all present except Chairman Rand and Member Reliford.
During Citizen’s Remarks, Tim Howard, LVWGP Vice President and Board member, read a letter on behalf of the League of Women Voters Greater Peoria thanking the County Board, its Redistricting Committee, and past board members Allen Mayer and Stephen Morris for their excellent redistricting process and resulting districts map.
The Consent agenda passed without discussion. Among items approved were:
Peoria Housing Authority (PHA) Board met electronically December 6, 2021 with all Commissioners present.
Three residents graduated from the PHA Family Self Sufficiency program. This program has allowed the three women to complete educational and financial goals, as well as, become home owners. This program can take up to five years for an individual to complete.
Minutes of November regular meeting and special meeting were approved. Reports were approved by consent agenda. Resolutions were approved to submit FY2022 Public Housing Budget, as well as, Operating Budgets for Housing Choice Voucher Program and Mainstream Voucher Budget to Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Board also voted to appoint additional board members to the Committee to select Chief Executive Officer. Board approved 3-year collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME membership.
The PHA Board of Commissioners meets the first Monday of each month electronically. Information available at www.peoriahousingauthority.com
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board held a special meeting November 30 with all present except Members Pastucha and Windish. Member Reliford participated via phone.
The sole agenda item was final approval of the draft redistricting map based on the 2020 Census and that will be in place for the next decade. Former members Allen Mayer and Stephen Morris worked with the county IT and GIS departments to determine population gain/loss in each census track and then drafted a map that reflected these changes but also retained substantially same populations—the 18 districts vary in size by no more than 124 people. In general, heritage neighborhoods within the City of Peoria lost population while the Route 6 Corridor saw significant growth compared to the 2010 Census. All 18 members will be elected in 2022.
Members thanked Mayer and Morris for their bipartisanship and generosity for volunteering their time and expertise.
The map was approved unanimously on a 16-0 vote. The interactive map is available on the County website under the Departments/GIS tab.
During Citizen’s Remarks, Sherriff Brian Asbell surprised the board by announcing he would not stand for election in 2022. He cited unspecified policy disagreements with the board over the past year for his decision not to run again.
Jim Runyon, Observer
PEORIA CITY COUNCIL Budget Meetings Nov 16 and 23
The City Council members met for special meeting November 16, with focus on 2022-2023 biennial budget. The elephant in the room is how city will pay the public safety pension obligation over next two years. At prior meeting, council members voted to allow public safety pension tax to sunset as scheduled rather than ask property owners to continue paying a fee. This tax added two million dollars annually to city budget in 2020-2021 towards the pension obligation.
City Manager Urich provided the council with six options for upcoming budget including: whether to fill open positions in Police and Fire departments, restoring one engine for fire department and code enforcement positions. There was little support to cut $621,000.00 for public safety. By law, the city pension obligation for 2022 is approximately $27.7 million with an additional $360 million due before 2040. Mr. Urich reminded the members that pension obligation comes up every year with budget process and paying minimum amount puts city further behind and may mean city would have to dip into reserves to make pension payments in the future. He stressed importance of a long-term solution strategy.
All members agreed they did not want to cut public safety funding for police and fire departments. Another option put on table by City Manager was to take funds received in 2021 due to increased revenues to cover 2022-2023 Pension Fund obligations, giving the Council more time to consider long-term solutions. After much discussion on options provided, the Council deferred voting on request to approve the resolution adopting 2022-2023 biennial budget for one week to consider how to fund public safety pension.
During Public Comment period of meeting, Karrie Alms, concerned citizen, reminded Council that requesting names and addresses of citizens was a violation of Open Meeting Act (OMA) and asked staff to ensure compliance to OMA. She also cited lack of availability of handouts and Council correspondence to public as issue for transparency, especially in view of City Budget and Committee Meetings. Another concern mentioned was Robert’s Rules of Order and lack of respect for each other during discussions and asked Council members to be positive role model in community, especially to youth.
The Council convened on November 23 for regular meeting to conduct regular business and approve 2022-2023 Biennial Budget. A motion was approved to accept FY2021 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant in amount of $78,319.00 and approve two-year agreement with Flock Safety for automatic license plate recognition cameras.
The main event of the meeting was how to address the $4 million gap in budget. City Manager Urich gave overview of revenue in general fund so far this year in addition to payments anticipated for last two months of 2021. Increased performance in sales tax, shared state revenues, funds from American Rescue Fund for 2021 and recovery from pandemic have exceeded expectations and are anticipated to be total of $17.4 million by year end. This will allow $4 million to be used for pension fund liability for 2022-2023, as well as fund reserve balance of general fund at 27.4%.
The Council approved a resolution to adopt 2022-2023 Biennial Budget for City of Peoria with vote eight to three with Councilpersons Oyler, Cyr and Ruckriegel voting nay. The funding for police and fire remained intact for upcoming biennium.
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular monthly meeting November 11 with all members present except Chairman Rand. Member Rieker participated via phone.
The meeting was preceded by a Redistricting Committee meeting that discussed recent changes to the draft county board district boundaries including recent modifications for the more rural areas in Districts 14 and 16. Four public comments were read into the record. The interactive draft map that will be recommended for approval is available on the County website under the Departments/GIS tab. Videos describing the redistricting process will be posted on the same site beginning November 24th. Additional public comments will be accepted through November 30 when the county board is scheduled to vote on the draft map.
One proclamation was read recognizing Small Business Saturday.
Ten items on the consent agenda were approved without discussion. Among these items were approvals of a contract extension for independent external auditing, a three year contract for health care provision for juvenile and adult detainees, technology improvements for the county board room, and a bid for rehabilitation of a bridge on Swords Avenue.
Under regular business:
Video of meeting (copy paste): https://youtu.be/Toy3OJ6oWy4
The PCC members continue to meet weekly to discuss proposed 2022-2023 Biennial budget, as well as, other business matters. Consent agenda of 8 items was approved with minimal discussion. Councilperson Jensen noted the CDBG public services funding includes support for survivors of domestic assault and stalking.
Joe Dulin, Director of Community Development, gave an update on restaurant license requirements related to Chapter 27 of City Code. This will be streamlined to be more business friendly. Businesses that fail to pay taxes to city will have increase in penalty to $5000. Councilperson Cyr was recognized for asking City Manager and staff to review outdated codes for local businesses.
The Council voted to freeze stormwater utility tax for 2022-2023; City Manager Urich is anticipating the rate of inflation growth will go down in 2023. The Council voted against extending the Public Safety Pension Fee, allowing it to sunset. The city collected approximately $2 million with the fee on top of property taxes. The council members acknowledged little control locally over the safety pension and recommended trying to work with legislature in Springfield and consolidated pension boards. This is an issue for most communities in Illinois and a lobbying effort may be considered. The public safety pension fund must be 90% funded by 2040. Councilperson Grayeb stated that some members around the horseshoe did not value public safety by not supporting the fee; Councilperson Ruckriegel was quick to clarify that judgement was inaccurate and unfair.
During budget discussion, Councilperson Oyler made motion to set aside $250,000 in 2022 and 2023 budget years as restricted funds to be used for due diligence of water works should the council decide to do so. In past, there has been criticism the council has accepted funds for due diligence from outside sources and this would allow for funding to be allocated. If the funds were not used for this purpose in 2023, they would be released to General Fund. The franchise agreement option between City of Peoria and Illinois American Water Company comes up every five years. Motion passed six to five with Councilors Allen, Grayeb, Jackson, Jensen and Mayor Ali opposed.
Reminder that you can check minutes and video of Council meetings on website: www.peoriagov.org.
Connie Romanus, Observer
video of meeting (copy paste): https://youtu.be/d3HhnSqQmy0
View by Date