PEORIA, IL -- Here's David Berry's story on the Peoria City Council meeting of Sept. 12:
ON THE 309
by David Berry
Kill the Township & Diversity Resolution
Loud & crowded, described the gallery, prior to Tuesday night meeting of the Peoria City Council. The hour, 50 minute gathering was peppered with virgin topics & precedent setting events. “Proclamations & Commendations” portion full of Peoria success stories. Kim Armstrong was acknowledged for her tireless work & announced as the recipient of Lydia Moss Bradley Award 2017. Her supporters packed the audience & hardily cheered her on.https://www.facebook.com/beth.jensen.144/posts/1805830506375741
In the first ever discussion of civic consolidation, John Redlingshafer, representing the Illinois Township Attorneys Association, defended the need for the added layer of government that is Peoria Township. Stating that “taxpayers deserve efficiency” he described, in detail, the “unique” services of the body. The speaker seemed to be warning residents that if the City were to absorb the Township, the City would then have control of this property tax levy.
He contended that Township officials are key & “held accountable at the ballot box.” Several council members joined in. 2nd District Rep Chuck Grayeb called the topic an “interesting discussion” adding: “these functions could be municipalized.”
Patrick Urich, City Manager, noted that taxpayer savings could be found in salary reductions of these officials. The most inquisitive of the members was At Large Rep Beth Jensen. She asked if “not every single Township official would be needed” in a consolidation. Jensen suggested that many of these services could be performed by the City Clerk & Finance Department. The City Manager was requested to explore this option as well as any added pension costs. Mayor Ardis concluded: “that this is just the beginning of the conversation.”
“Regular Business” continued by addressing the City’s stance on racial tolerance. Lafelda Jones, a long time educator, took to the microphone & described her participation in crafting a statement which asserts Peoria’s dedication to racial equity. Jones collaborated with PPD Chief Mitchell & other officials in writing this document. Mitchell went on to praise the City’s resident officer program & public school resource officers, in this ongoing effort. The department now gives students “pocket size, laminated cards” that describes their rights & “how to survive police encounters.”
A call to the City Clerk Wednesday, disclosed that this newly passed city resolution is not currently available to public. City staff also relayed that no new “small workgroups meetings” of the “Community Conversation on Race” are scheduled & no activity on this project is planned. The last meeting was May 5th. Councilman Grayeb seemed to echo this theme of inaction. He described this issue as being “more grassroots than city hall driven.”
Two additional “Regular Business” items concerned tax increases for the Westlake Shopping Center and a much anticipated, new Portillo’s restaurant. Businesses in the Westlake Shopping Center & Portillo’s representatives are seeking increased sales tax, to be reimbursed to developers. Items 17-274 &17-275 simply set a November 14th public hearing on the actions.
Item 17-277 unveiled the South Village TIF’s first ever “Job Training Program.” 1st District Rep Denise Moore signaled a precedent setting shift in her stance on TIF fund usage. In the past, Moore insisted that TIF funds be saved for business development projects that create jobs. Training residents for good paying jobs seems to be a new priority for her. Moore stated that 3 or 4 organizations have already requested taxpayer help in this sector. Applications for the $50,000 pool will be out “next week”. A sub group will choose recipients & then present them to the Council for formal approval. At Large Councilman Sid Ruckriegel requested a “timeline” on program completion & Mr. Grayeb cited the move as “exciting” & “something we should do more of."
In “Citizens’ Opportunity to Address” the Friends of Riverfront Park invited the entire council to attend this weekend’s awareness and fundraising event. The fest is scheduled for Saturday 10/16. See link for details.
Link through, for Council Meeting minutes
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