2018 has been a rough year for city of Peoria leaders and taxpayers. The number $6 million consistently rang from council chambers, that million dollar number is the budget deficit the city faced heading into 2019.
“It’s going to be a very difficult budget it’s not going to be an easy one,” said City Manager Patrick Urich in a September 2018 interview.
Balancing the budget sure wasn’t an easy task. Layoffs and cuts rolled out earlier in the summer, followed by added fees. Cuts to empty fire and police positions, even some fire squads all were cut late in the year.
“The rescue squads although they are a vital piece of machinery within the city, the way we use them, we feel that we can accomplish what the machine does,” said Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy during a city council meeting back in November.
Budget deficits have been a consistent hard pill to swallow in recent years. The city faced a nearly $3 million dollar shortfall in 2015, in 2016 the debt was $4 million and in 2017 the city was met with a deficit of $8 million dollars.
“The public safety pension costs are beyond the city’s control. they need to be fixed in Springfield,” added Urich back in September.
A resolution to increased public safety pension costs became an added parcel fee for property owners in the city, some aren’t about this fee.
“The overall problem is the town is spending more money than it’s bringing in,” said Peoria resident Joseph Lipovsky last month.
In 2015, residents saw an increase in gas and hotel taxes to help balance the budget. In 2018, the city added a 2% liquor tax to help balance the budget.
While it seems as though unbalanced budgets are a consistent issue, leaders say this new budget should remain balanced at least through 2020.
It’s important to note public pension fees continue to increase each year, a conversation to combat this issue could loom again soon.