Peoria City Council suggests three scenarios to balance the budget, hoping to choose best possible option

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On the road to a balanced budget, Peoria City Council is tasking city manager, Patrick Urich with creating multiple scenarios, hoping to choose the best outcome.

Tuesday, council members gave Urich further direction, proposing ideas to break even. The COVID-19 pandemic and it’s economic fallout could result in an expected $54 million shortfall in the 2020 budget.

City council voted 10 to 1, with an opposing vote from Beth Jensen, to give Urich range and the ability to find the outcome of three different scenarios before a final decision is made.

The first option is to reduce funding for operating services, like public safety, by $5-$15 million. The second option bars reductions in operating services, using borrowing and refinancing to cover costs. The last option is to reduce capital spending by $23-$28 million and to fill the remainder of the gap with borrowing and refinancing.

Councilwoman Beth Jensen was opposed to the thought of taking away jobs. “I just can’t support directing the manager to cut jobs until we look at everything else,” she said.

On the other hand, councilwoman Rita Ali wanted every option to be presented. “We should definitely have various scenarios and some of them are not going to be appealing at all, I think about revenue in terms of tax increase, that’s not a scenario I would be supportive of but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be presented,” she said.

Council members are considering elimination or delay of capital projects, such as road improvements and reducing operating services by way of lay-offs. furloughs, outsourcing and service reduction.

This would affect the fire department, police department, Peoria Public Works, among other departments. It is unclear when leaders will vote on an amended budget.

City council tonight also voted to renew the local emergency declaration. Mayor Jim Ardis will have emergency powers until the next renewal date.

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