Peoria City Council considering making $10 million operational cuts, could affect public safety

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria’s city manager, Patrick Urich said without action, the city will be broke by the end of the year. For more than a month, council members have been discussing methods to fill a budget gap of millions of dollars. Tuesday, the council asked Urich to create a plan with $10 million worth of operational cuts from the 2020 budget.

This means nearly 100 positions within city hall, Peoria Public Works, community development, the fire department and the police department would be restructured. The motion passed 7 to 4, with Chuck Grayeb, Rita Ali, Beth Jensen and Jim Montelongo opposed.

“I’m willing to go some ways but 10 million is too deep it impacts not just our staff, but our services our community and I don’t believe we’re ready, that we have to be here at this point,” Ali said.

Councilwoman Denise Moore agreed with the potential plan, but suggest the council refrain from eliminating resident officers. “In the face of this crisis and the red ink that’s in front of us we need to make sure that we are keeping our neighborhoods that would be disproportionately impacted by this type of loss to a minimum,” Moore said.

Urich will present a plan to council at the next meeting, showing them what $10 million in budget cuts would look like. Decisions made tonight are not final.

In addition, council members agreed to support small businesses. The council unanimously approved a resolution to be sent to the governor and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. They are urging state leaders to re-think regulations limiting small business owners under the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Bushwhacker, a bike shop in Peoria is partially open right now as a result of these regulations. Only bikes can be sold in the store, all other non-bike related objects are blocked off with caution tape. The council said rules like this are not right, considering customers have access to all items in superstores.

“What we have here is a very unfair situation its a double standard and we are training our citizens very well to make sure they go to big box stores and forget all the local stores,” Councilman John Kelly said.

Kelly said he sees no threat to public health by allowing some small businesses to open entirely.

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