Peoria city manager presents balanced 2021 budget to city council members

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After cutting jobs to cut costs, the city council finds itself with a balanced 2021 budget.

The council held a special meeting Tuesday night where city manager Patrick Urich explained the revised budget for next year. Urich said this proposal extends some of the changes that the city council made in 2020 into 2021.

“On the operating side, many of the positions that we reduced this past year won’t be filled and we’re anticipating that’s going to carry through the end of 2021,” Urich said “The management furloughs that people are taking will continue through the end of 2021.”

Urich said the operating budget, where they pay for all of their employees, will be about $150 million, and the capital budget, where they build things, will be about $26 million. He said although the city’s expenses have increased going into the next year, the revenue has as well.

“Overall, the budget is anticipated to grow from an expense standpoint by about 8.7%,” Urich said. “But with our revenue, we’re anticipating that we should see the beginning of the recovery from the pandemic so our revenues are growing by about 9.7%.”

He said after the fallout from the pandemic, the city has lost about $36 million in revenue. He said, however, the city’s capital budget is bigger than anticipated due to motor fuel tax proceeds which will help fund some of the city’s road projects.

Urich said two big obligations the city has to worry about long-term are combined sewer overflow issues for which they’re negotiating an 18-year fix and public safety pension increases.

“The growth that we’re seeing in our obligations to pay for public safety pensions are not getting smaller,” Urich said. “I’ve likened it to Pac-Man just eating more and more of our budget and that’s the piece that we really need to get a handle on.”

Urich also said the uncertainty of the pandemic is also concerning and could affect the way the current budget is set up.

“I think if we do see a resurgence where we see lockdowns of how we’ve been opening from an economic standpoint, that will have a material effect in a negative way on this budget and affect the revenues that we have,” Urich said. “That’s a concern obviously. It’s a concern at the state level, what the state may do to balance their budget.”

He said other concerns could include whether or not the city sees assistance in the form of a stimulus package from Washington or income tax dollars from the state. Urich said he wants the public to know that although the city has had to tighten its belt, it’s still living within its means.

“It’s going to have an impact, but we hope that everyone’s patient and understands that we’re trying to be as judicious in our spending as anyone would do in their own household,” Urich said.

The city council will have a budget hearing at its meeting next week. Urich said the council has to adopt a budget by the first two weeks in December.

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