UPDATED (9:24 a.m.) — The Peoria City Council decided not to go through with a proposed buyout of the waterworks after a lengthy discussion Tuesday.

Council members voted 7-4 with Denis Cyr, Mike Vespa, Kiran Velpula and Zachary Oyler all voting in favor of the buyout. The other seven council members which included Mayor Rita Ali voted not to go through with it.

An earlier story on CIPROUD.com had the vote total incorrect as one of the council members called in remotely and his vote was not listed on the board in the council chambers.

A key reason the seven voted against the buyout was the cost. Two weeks ago, a consultant hired by City Hall said buying out the water system from Illinois American Water Co., could cost Peoria as much as $22.6 million a year or nearly $345 million by the time it’s over.

That’s on the high end but the lowest likely price was well over $200 million, the consultant said.

Since 1889, the city, by law, can consider every five years whether to purchase the water system or not. The last time that happened was in 1998. The evaluation process lasted until 2005 when the council vote stopped the buyout.

Also against the water buyout was City Manager Patrick Urich whose office would have to manage the system and also Public Works Director Rick Powers.

The strategic plan for the city was approved 9-1 with Councilman John Kelly dissenting. The plan focuses on community safety, downtown development, embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, infrastructure, and quality of life.

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — City Hall will spend about $10 million — that remains of its COVID relief money — in 2024; a small portion of the overall $322 million budget.

For a second week, the Peoria City Council will drill down into next year’s budget and also projections for the 2025 budget. It’s part of the annual process that will culminate on Nov. 14 when the council will likely approve its final budget. It could change from now until then.

But on Tuesday, council members not only ponder the large numbers but also some 40 pages of additional information stemming from questions they wanted answered. Mind you, the original budget packet was several pages long already.

The additional items are called “report backs,” and it’s jargon used by City Hall to reflect work done by staffers in response to questions from around the Horseshoe on a given topic.

Among the items were what was the city’s annual unemployment rate, how much the city pays each year for pensions and how does it manage its debt. Other council members wanted timelines on violence prevention money and still others wanted “talking points” for the budget.

Also in the 2024 budget are dollars for 13 positions that include a grant coordinator for public works, nine maintenance positions for stormwater improvements and a building inspector for the city’s Community Development department.

In other news, the county will discuss:

  • a possible buyout of the waterworks within the city. Every five years, the council has the option to buy the water system within the city. It’s never happened and due to the high cost, likely wouldn’t. Council members, however, will discuss their options after hearing from their consultant two weeks ago.
  • a report from a consulting firm that outlines the strategic plan for the city for the next five years. The plan doesn’t lay out how things are to be done but rather, sets priorities and lays the basis for the council’s overall policy vision.