Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis addresses COVID-19 impact on city finances, says growth and innovation are the future

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis gave his 16th and final State of the City address virtually.

Mayor Ardis said the city is facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the city had a balanced budget and was planning to put more than $1 million in reserves before the pandemic.

“In April, the budget projections indicated a revenue deficit of $54.5 million,” said Mayor Ardis. “Devastating. By August that revenue shortfall was revised to $27.6 million.”

He said those circumstances forced difficult decisions and cuts.

“We were facing huge shortfalls in nearly every category. Especially hotel, restaurant, and amusement taxes, property taxes, and corporate income taxes,” said Ardis.

Ardis said there is still a light at the end of the tunnel for Peoria.

“We’re all looking forward to the day when mass vaccinations lead to herd immunity and bringing COVID-19 under control,” said Ardis.

He said growth and innovation can lead Peoria out of economic hardship.

“Our downtown and warehouse district will bring much desired vitality back to the area,” said Ardis.

It includes new infrastructure like the OSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, new Ministry Headquarters, and the OSF On-Call building which opened in January.

“Eventually about 400 mission partners will work at that location,” said Ardis.

Another area Ardis said will make waves for the city is bio-technology and the Peoria Bio-Made initiative.

“Where better than to launch a biomanufacturing plant to research the scalability of pandemic countermeasures than the original home of life-saving biomanufacturing in Peoria, Illinois,” said Ardis.

Ardis ended his address with a challenge for Peorians. He said he wants to set record voter turnout for the April general election. He said people should do their research and vote for candidates in local elections.

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