PEORIA, Ill.– The city needs the money to fund pensions for police and firefighters. This week, Peorians are seeing those first bills hit the mail and city leaders tell me this was the best solution to a problem they can’t fully control.
2020 is the first year you’re expected to pay the public safety property fee.
“It’s intended to raise 1.2 million dollars this year, 1.6 million dollars next year and 2 million dollars in the final year,” Urich said.
Approved by the city council in 2018, the fee is an alternative to raising property taxes and varies based on property size.
“If you have a vacant parcel, it’s $10, an average-sized house inside the city is going be $25, the larger house will be $30 and commercial or larger structures, it’ll be $100 or $200,” said Ulrich.
Statewide, pensions need to be 90 % funded by 2040, but the city gets little say in what those pensions cost.
“Springfield mandates what the pension is for our police and fire that’s not something we negotiate as part of our collective bargaining,” Tim Riggenbach said.
“We don’t really have any control over public safety pensions. The benefits that are designed by the general assembly are designed in Springfield. The amount that we have to levee is calculated based on investments fund we do not control,” Urich said.
This fee ensures everyone who utilizes the police and fire departments contribute.
“If we were to just add it to the property taxes, there’s an inordinate amount of properties that are tax-exempt; whether its churches, schools, hospitals,” Riggenbach said.
“Obviously, no one likes additional fees, but we know that we have to pay for our safety personnel and this is one method the council said they want to move forward with this,” Ulrich said.