Peoria leaders started their discussion regarding billing residents and visitors for fire response services at Tuesday’s council meeting.
This fee would be billed to any at-fault driver’s insurance when the fire department has to respond to an accident.
Fire department officials stressed that other cities across the state have implemented similar fees. Council members responded to the remarks about other cities stating, “We are not those other cities,” said Councilman Chuck Grayeb. “I’m not Naperville’s councilman, I represent the city of Peoria.”
Many council members were vocal about their concerns regarding how the fee structure was determined. Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy stated the fees were determined by the company overseeing the collection process, Fire Recovery.
Leaders weren’t happy when they learned the fees were set by the collection company, they say these fees should’ve been set by the city. “We should never let someone define our city, we should be defining it ourselves,” said Councilman Dennis Cyr.
Moving forward, leaders requested more information on how this fee will affect Peorian’s insurance policies. Councilwoman Beth Akeson questioned if the fee would raise resident’s insurance policies.
City Manager Patrick Urich says he plans to bring that information to the next council meeting, along with inviting experts in to discuss the pros and cons of the fee.
Urich also made it clear the fee must pass or the 2019 budget will be short $200 thousand dollars.
Tuesday’s discussion was the first reading of what could be a long discussion before leaders make a final vote on the fee.