Monica Hendricks, Public Health Administrator for Peoria County/City and Katy Endres, Director of Epidemiology and Clinical Services gave overview of gun violence as public health issue and introduced Brent Decker, who gave presentation on Cure Violence program and assessment process to address this serious issue in community. Program is evidenced based and engages community in reducing the problem. The Chief of Police requested funding of $25,000 for assessment of local violence and community partners at May council meeting. Council voted to receive and file report. This subject was introduced later during regular business; after much discussion, motion made to defer vote to fund assessment to June 28th meeting. Additional information on alternate programs was requested by members.
Aggregation Customers informing them of increase in rates with Ameren for electric service. This affects 38,500 citizens who have been receiving electric service from Homefield Energy. The city was not able to secure electric rate less than Ameren currently providing. Some of issues affecting outcome are timing of current contract expiration, war in Ukraine, and lack of renewable energy sources. Citizens can go to www.pluginillinoi.org to explore other options.
Community Development Director Dulen presented report to council on Peoria Land Bank history and responsibilities, as well as the benefits of having local land bank vs. regional. This allows the city to vet future purchase of properties that are for sale due to failure to pay property taxes to avoid future city issues and liabilities when purchaser does not repair or maintain property.
To view video or minutes of this meeting, go to www.peoriaorg.gov. Next Council meeting is June 28, 2022 at 6:00 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
Council members discussed request from City Manager and Chief of Police regarding approval of $25,000.00 for Cure the Violence Assessment using American Recovery Funds. Chief Echevarria and Officer Hodges gave presentation on evidence-based initiatives to reduce gun violence. Some councilors expressed frustration at not being kept up to date on gun violence initiatives and asked for quarterly updates. After more than one hour of debate, the vote was 5-5, with Oyler, Ruckreigel, Valpula, Kelly and Grayeb voting nay. During the debate, Councilor Allen encouraged the council to trust the Chief of Police and his efforts to reduce gun violence using the training and focus that was successful in Decatur.
A presentation on the Municipal Aggregation Program and current state of the electricity market was made by representatives for Good Energy, local electric buying group for past ten years. Charles Decastage made the presentation to the council. He explained the process for buying power at auction this spring in view of electricity shortages, decommission of coal powered energy and not having sufficient renewable energy sources available. Auction rates were as high as $236.66MW-day vs $5.00/MW-day. Good Energy representatives are continuing to monitor pricing and encourage approximately 38,000 area residents that have opted into city plan not to opt out of the program. Ameren has purchased energy for June and July at higher rates. City Manager Urich hopes to have electric energy contract for City of Peoria from Good Energy within next 10-12 days. If resident opts out during this time, they will not be able to get back into city plan. Click on item 22-177 on Agenda to get summary of presentation.
Council passed ordinance to amend traffic and motor vehicle code to be unlawful for occupant of motor vehicle to interact with pedestrian while vehicle is not legally parked and on traveled portion of roadway. In addition, this action makes it unlawful for an individual to remain on median on roadway when not lawfully crossing roadway. Meeting agendas, video and minutes are available at: https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx Next meeting is June 13, 2022 at 6:00 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
During the Township portion of the meeting, the Trustees certified the actions taken at the April 12, 2022 Annual Meeting regarding placement of an advisory question of public policy at general election to be held on November 8, 2022: “Should the State of Illinois Adopt an Independent Citizens Commission for the Federal and State Redistricting Process, that Would be Guided by Principles Established in Fair Maps Initiatives?” This will be submitted to the Peoria County Election Commission by the Town Clerk to be placed on November 8, 2022 ballot.
Consent agenda of nine items approved without discussion. Under regular business, the Council approved CDBG Public Service Commission to funding for non-profit capital program in amount of $563,085.00. These funds will be used for neighborhood revitalization and healthy living programs.
The Public Works department was recognized for its efforts to coordinate area road repairs and avoid conflict with state roadwork schedule over the next year. Some of the areas to be addressed are Orange Prairie Road, Nebraska from University to Sterling Ave, Allen Road from Northmoor to War Memorial Dr.
Council deferred voting on Video Gaming Ordinance until May 24, 2022 meeting. Information on fee structure for other communities in Illinois is available city website (go to Agenda, click on item 22-119 to view), as well as proposed Ordinance. The next council meeting is scheduled for May 24, 2022. Minutes, agendas and recordings of meetings are available at https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Connie Romanus, Observer
Council members approved consent agenda -thirteen items- unanimously, as well as minutes of April 12, 2022 joint city council and township minutes.
Communication from City Manager Urich to approve intergovernmental agreement to establish public health equity fund between city, Peoria County and Peoria County Board of Health of $600,000 over four years. Goal to address health and safety outcomes in impoverished areas. Mayor Ali suggested presentation of plan as it is developed.
Communication from City Manager and Director of Community Development presented to approve amending comprehensive plan that includes East Bluff Housing Needs Assessment and Community Revitalization Plan. Plan supported by third district Councilor Riggenbach and passed by ten to one vote, John Kelly opposed.
Council passed ordinance to amend Chapter 31 of Code of City of Peoria relating to stormwater utility fee. This allows for property owners who are able to prove all stormwater was retained on property may be eligible for additional reduction in fee. This application process requires submission of engineering reports and other paperwork.
Finance Director Cratty presented overview of pension fund structures in Illinois and ongoing consolidation of police and fire pensions. See minutes at www.peoriaorg.gov for full discussion.
Continued concerns regarding panhandling at intersections and public safety had the attention of the council and citizens. Interim Corporation Counsel Kapustka gave presentation on existing state laws and ordinances related to this issue, as well as provided options being used by other municipalities.
City Manager Urich communicated information on predicted Ameren energy rate increases related to Regional Energy Supply Auction on April 14, 2022. The current contract with City will expire at end of May 2022, resulting in energy purchases on volatile market. More information is anticipated over next few weeks. Rate increases raised from $5.00/megawatt to $236.00/megawatt and could result in consumer expense increase of $500.00 per year.
The Peoria City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6:00 P.M. You can listen on WCBU radio, view on public access channel 22 or watch online https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Council meeting opened with the Township of Peoria Annual Meeting. LWVGP representatives, led by Janet Roth, read a statement regarding League plans for a study to examine transparency and efficiency of Peoria Township operations over the coming year.
In the regular meeting which followed, Councilors deferred a vote on approving a liquor license for Exposition Gardens to gather more information on the number of outdoor events, cut off times and comparison with other Class I licenses, such as Louisville Slugger Complex.
Video gaming fees were discussed. Interim Corporation Counsel Chrissy Kaputska reviewed city code: video gaming terminal fees set at $500 per terminal, equally split between local business and terminal operators, as well as $1,000 fee for terminal operators per machine. The Illinois legislature changed Video Gaming Act in December 2021 to require all fees shared equally between local business and terminal operators. The city is required to amend the current fee system. Ms. Kaputska spoke to the inconsistencies in State legislation regarding home-rule language and impact on establishing flat registration fee of $500. Concerns for small business were expressed, as well as how other municipalities were handling this and if there were alternative fee structures.
Councilors approved scheduled increase in City’s Sanitary Sewer Lateral Fee effective May 1, on a 7-3 vote; Councilors opposed were Denis Cyr, Zach Oyler and Sid Ruckriegel. City Manager Patrick Urich explained this increase is for properties serviced by the city-owned sewer system to fund repairs, maintenance and operations. Increase will be just over $.50 per quarter per property. This will allow the city to maintain the sewer system to meet standards in order to transfer jurisdiction to Greater Peoria Sanitary District. Council was reminded the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) funds were used for sewer improvement projects and the yearly Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) loan application and approval.
Note: agenda, video and minutes are available at peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Connie Romanus, Observer
Peoria City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement regarding tax collection duties with Peoria County Treasurer and Peoria Township Collector. Stephen Morris, city treasurer and township collector, explained that Peoria is the last County to have a township collect property taxes and recommended that city hall no longer collect these taxes, saving $40,000 annually. Beginning in May, property taxes will all be paid to Peoria County Treasurer (at the Peoria courthouse) or local participating banks. Nicole Bjerke is the County Treasurer. This impacts few people who had paid their real estate taxes in person at City Hall and will be able to pay in person at Peoria Courthouse (down the street.) Most taxpayers pay via their mortgage, at a bank, or by mail which already goes to the County Treasurer.
Highlights of the March 8 meeting:
A short public meeting regarding redistricting of council districts was held prior to council meeting. Comments were made in person and written communication by seven citizens, most representing home-owners associations from the West Bluff and Moss-Bradley areas. All were against the proposed changes in V2.3 map based on lack of transparency, as well as community input, and not keeping existing neighborhoods intact. The Council plans final vote on redistricting at February 22 meeting. Proposed council district maps are available www.peoriagov.org/redistricting.
Annual Township meeting of City of Peoria will be held April 12, 2022 at council chambers at 6:00 P.M. Citizens wishing to speak must submit specific items to be considered for meeting agenda by Tuesday, March 1, 2022 to Township Clerk ; communication must be signed by fifteen citizens.
Council approved issuance of general obligation bonds not to exceed $17,000,000 for financing certain capital improvements and refunding certain outstanding bonds to provide for levy and collection of direct Annual Tax for payment of principal and interest and authorizing sale of the bonds. Vote preceded by robust discussion by members; final vote eight to three, with nays by Councilors Cyr, Kelly and Ruckriegel.
City Manager Urich provided overview of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) process and benefits for the University/War redevelopment project. Benefits include additional improvements, as well as tax revenue from new businesses. When asked about public input on this project, Urich cited a public hearing held January 25, 2022, as well as presentation to local taxing bodies given at Open Meeting where comment available. The TIF would expire in twenty-three years.
Peoria City Council meets second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:00 P.M. and can be viewed online or cable public access channel 22. Agenda and minutes available at www.peoriagov.org/city-council/council-meetings.
The January 25, 2022 Council meeting began with public hearing regarding creation of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, to be known as University/War TIF. There were no public comments, after three calls by Mayor Ali and the hearing closed with no discussion.
Consent agenda approved by Council members. The main topic of business for the evening was an update to the Council and public on status of passenger rail initiative (train speeds of 80-100 miles per hour), a priority of Mayor Ali. She has been in discussion on high-speed rail with Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood over the past six months. A committee has been formed with Councilor Ruckriegel and other local stakeholders, including state representatives, IDOT secretary Omer Osman, County Board Chair Andrew Rand, as well as labor and business leaders, and Bradley University. City Manager Urich provided an overview of Committee, rationale for passenger rail system, IDOT Feasibility Study (to be completed in April) and available funding through Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. A survey has been launched to get community input about the Passenger Rail Initiative.
The Council unanimously approved revisions to City Façade Improvement Program, which will be expanded to all businesses in Peoria with funds from American Rescue Plan. Senior Economic Specialist Kevin Evans shared that proposed changes would expand eligibility for program, increase fund limit and reimbursement amount for distressed areas. City Manger Urich will have administrative authority for this program.
The council members set dates for policy meetings to discuss redistricting of city of Peoria based on 2020 census results. Meetings are scheduled January 18, February 1 and 15, March 1, 15, and 29th. Check www.peoriagov.org for more details on how to attend one of these virtual sessions. The goal is for districts to be nearly equal in population, compact, contiguous, respect geographic boundaries and shared interests, and preserve incumbent districts.
Emily Cahill, Director of Peoria Park District, presented overview of $600,00.00 of updates scheduled for Trewyn Park to include playground, basketball court, and shelter to provide public space for quality social activity.
Consent Agenda was passed with one exception; one item deferred for two weeks for clarification prior to approving contract for demolition of properties. Presentations from Peoria Police Department and Fire Department were received by Council. Reports gave overview of department hiring, attrition and retention over past year, as well as diversity demographics.
Council members continue to discuss concerns regarding potential parking, noise levels and overcrowding, regarding approval of short-term rentals in Uplands neighborhood. Mayor Ali reminded the councilors that policies have been developed to address saturation in neighborhoods and encouraged members to be consistent with this.
Under new business, Councilman Kelly asked for report back on program requiring landlords to register rental property with focus on the impact of program on available, quality housing. It was noted this program started twenty-five years ago.
Three citizens addressed council with complaints regarding condition of city streets after January 1 snowstorm and public safety issues.
Connie Romanus, Observer
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