Peoria City Council to consider 20 percent reduction to Peoria Fire Department, union says

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Firefighters Local 50 union may see some cutbacks according to a post on their Facebook page.

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, the city council plans to discuss a proposal to slash the Peoria Fire Department’s operating budget. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said it’s a decision every mayor in America is having to make.

“We’re looking at a $30-$40 million budget deficit and the only real place we have left for cuts is within the personnel,” Ardis said.

According to Local 50, the cuts would result in the closure of three companies as well as the termination of 33 firefighters. The group called this consideration “unacceptable and unsafe.”

The union said the Peoria City Council will consider a 20 percent reduction to Peoria Fire Department public safety resources during their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Mayor Ardis said it’s not a decision he or any city leader would be thrilled to make.

“None of us are anxious to close a fire station, but our options are limited,” Ardis said. “People do not want to raise taxes to keep it sustained the way it is right now so the choice is a tough one, but it’s a choice we have to make.”

Councilman Chuck Grayeb said it’s a decision he does not support.

“A first grader would know better than to do that,” Grayeb said.

Councilman Chuck Grayeb believes the city can’t afford to lose any fire stations and should not sacrifice safety in any way or form.

“There is nothing more important for us, than public safety,” Grayeb said. “With everything going on today, I can’t imagine we would make cuts in the area of public safety.”

Councilman Grayeb said he is proposing two town hall style meetings and would seek the public’s input on raising taxes to keep the current system or if they support the cuts.

“What we need in the city today is the vision and ability to go out and educate our constituents what the choices are and let them way in,” Grayeb said.

Grayeb said if the cuts do happen he can’t guarantee the people he represents in the 2nd District safety and that is why he supports a town hall meeting.

“If the public says we don’t care, go ahead and cut firehouses and lay off police because we’re not going to accept anytime type of revenue increase or even accept the fact we might need to have a city short-term loan,” Grayeb said. “That way when we vote, we vote within what they want.”

Grayeb said cuts have already happened at the public works department and hopes the same doesn’t happen with the fire department.

Ardis said every other department in the city has seen cuts including the public works and police department with which with the fire department are three of the larger departments managed by the city.

Neither Ardis or Grayeb said if an immediate action would take place at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

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