PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — During a special Tuesday night meeting, the Peoria City Council gathered around the horseshoe and officially started talks on the city’s 2022-2023 biennial budget.
Patrick Urich, city manager, and Kyle Cratty, finance director, gave the council a presentation on the proposed spending plan, which recommended spending $255.1 million in 2022 and $238.4 million in 2023.
Urich said although 2022’s proposed expenses increased by 24.6% from 2021, he said the city’s revenues also increased to $247.6 million, which is an 8.3% increase from the 2021 projected budget.
The city manager also mentioned the budget factors in the restoration of programs and services that were cut due to the pandemic.
The full budget presentation can be viewed below.
After the presentation, council members had their chances to weigh in on the proposal. Some members acknowledged the proposed budget had good ideas, but some also brought up their fair share of issues with a few of the recommendations.
One of the main topics of discussion was how the city’s American Rescue Plan funds were incorporated into the budget.
The budget proposed dedicating $10.2 million of the remaining $36 million in recovery funds, in both 2022 and 2023, for infrastructure, neighborhood stabilization, economic development, violence prevention, and health promotion.
This is a $1 million increase than what was originally presented to the council during a policy session in September, which proposed spending $9.1 million in pandemic relief per year.
Chuck Grayeb, Second District Councilman, Beth Jensen, At-Large Councilwoman, Andre Allen, Fourth District Councilman, and John Kelly, At-Large Councilman, suggested front-loading more of the money rather than waiting to spend it.
Grayeb and Kelly mentioned the purpose of the Local Fiscal Recovery Funds is to help the city recover from the pandemic, and said the city is in need of the bulk of the money now. At one point, Grayeb suggested using up to $20 million of the recovery funds instead of the proposed $10.2 million.
However, Urich reminded the council that the city currently only has half of the recovery funds, $23.5 million, and won’t get the second half until May 2022.
Since the council already voted back in June to use $10 million of its COVID-19 funds to avoid borrowing money to balance the city’s budget and end furloughs for city workers, this leaves the city with $13 million to spend until the second half of the money is available.
Tim Riggenbach, Third District Councilman, suggested using front-loading that $13 million, which is $3 million more than the proposal, rather than trying to spend money the city doesn’t physically have yet. Other council members agreed.
“When we’re talking dollars that we haven’t had at our disposal, three million dollars can be significant,” Urich said. “And that’s certainly something that we’re going to look at trying to make some prudent recommendations that hopefully, the council will support, and if council has other ideas we’ll certainly work to try and help to implement those as well.”
The council asked the city manager to come back with more information for the next budget meeting next Tuesday.