PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Mayor Rita Ali held her first State of the City address on Wednesday night.

The overarching tone of Mayor Ali’s speech was very positive. She focused on infrastructure, revenue, and innovation among other topics.

Mayor Ali shared Peoria’s financial overview:

  • Overall revenues totaled $252 million in 2021, up 15%
  • Overall expenditures totaled $230.4 million in 2021, up 7%
  • 34% increase in State revenues: $54.9 million
  • $47 million American Rescue Plan Act Funding
  • Capital Budget: $60 million, largest in more than 20 years

She also mentioned programs for small businesses are all things Peoria had to offer in 2021, like the R.I.S.E program (recovery, income, startup, and expansion) launched this year.

“[The program RISE] provides up to $50,000 per company in grant funding for small businesses impacted by the pandemic to support their capital needs,” said Mayor Ali.

Mayor Ali discussed Bradley University’s Business and Engineering Convergence Center, Illinois Central College’s Workforce Sustainability Center, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, OSF HealthCare Cancer Institute, and the Peoria Public Library System.

Mayor Ali said, “They are all working differently and interdependently to serve a different generation of students and future leaders. A generation that embraces technology, innovation, and change.”

However, after a record-breaking 34 homicides in Peoria in 2021, and nine this year, violent crime remains on the minds of many. Mayor Ali said aside from the police department, there are other ways to curb violence. Mayor Ali said, “That might be youth development, it might be, you know, street outreach connected with a more evidence-based strategy like a cure violence, but there are other opportunities for mentoring.”

In addition, Mayor Ali talked about the anti-violence initiatives, and multi-agency directed patrol resulting in numerous arrests, gun confiscations, and recovered stolen vehicles. The city also invested in camera technology for the Peoria Police, as well as the Police Plus Mental Health Emergency Response Pilot Program, allowing social workers to be on the scene of mental health 911 calls.

She also mentioned the city applying for federal funding for roads, as well as what the city has invested in with the capital budget. The city filed an application for $120 million in federal funding for roads.

“The city’s $60 million capital budget this year is the largest in more than 20 years. The primary investment is in our infrastructure, our roads, sidewalks, smart street lighting, facilities, and equipment,” said Mayor Ali.

Other topics of the night included the possible railway coming to Peoria, establishing land banks, or returning properties to productive use, and local jobs in medicine and science.