Community members rally outside of Peoria County Courthouse, opposing proposed budget cuts to auditor’s office

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria County Board’s Executive Committee is proposing cutting all three union jobs in the Auditor’s Office.

It’s an act that would leave Jessica Thomas, the county’s auditor, as the office’s sole worker. Thomas said this decision would essentially eliminate the office and she said she believes it would “violate the will of the People of Peoria.”

“The proposed budget cuts to the Auditor’s Office not only put three union jobs at risk, but it undermines the will and the vote of the Peoria County residents who voted to keep the office in 2018,” Thomas said. “So all citizens should be upset.”

Thomas said the duties of the currently proposed cut positions would be moved to the finance department.

More than 30 people came out to rally outside of the county’s courthouse Monday afternoon in support of the Auditor’s Office’s employees and hoped to change the county board members’ minds about cutting the positions.

Those in opposition Monday included representatives from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Tim Lavelle, a representative with AFSCME Council 31, said he believes the transparency that the voters voted for in 2018 should be upheld. He said if the board doesn’t comply, this matter could end up inside a courtroom.

“They actually moved some of the duties over to finance which we think is an unfair labor practice because we have a demand to bargain over material change and we’ve asked that that work be sent back over to the auditor’s office or we’ll be forced to file an unfair labor practice charge.”

Lavelle said he believes the board should some of its American Rescue Act funds to save these positions.

Scott Sorrel, Peoria County administrator, said the county cites good financial stewardship as one of its top priorities and said evaluating where and how taxpayer money is best spent is of the utmost concern for them.

“In the case of the Auditor’s Office, we are proposing a more efficient and cost-effective way to deliver taxpayer-supported services that board members will discuss in more detail on Tuesday,” Sorrel said.

Sorrel said the executive committee will have the opportunity to discuss the proposed budget Tuesday. He said their actions will then be to forward the recommended budget to the full county board which they will vote on at their regular meeting on Oct. 14.

Thomas said she hopes the county board will listen to what the officer’s supporters are saying and remember how the public voted in 2018.

“I’m hoping that the peoples’ voices will finally be heard and get through to the county administration and the county board that the people voted on this already,” Thomas said. “The fight needs to stop, like, just honor the vote and the will of the citizens of Peoria County and stop trying to threaten the jobs of three union women in the middle of a pandemic.”

Lavell said the depending on what the board’s executive committee does on Tuesday, they may have another rally when the full board goes to vote on the budget on Oct. 14.

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