PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The issue of funding for police and fire pensions will officially go before the public after the city council voted 7-4 to put the matter on the April 2021 ballot.
During Tuesday night’s city council meeting, councilwoman Denise Moore said the purpose is to “ask residents if they are in favor of increased property tax of a specific percentage to fund pensions.”
Council members Moore Chuck Grayeb, Beth Jensen and Rital Ali voted against the proposal.
This comes after weeks of debates, confusion, deferrals, and language changes to the questions that would potentially go on the ballot.
The language for the questions that will appear on the April ballot reads:
“Shall the City of Peoria increase its existing Fire Pension tax levy on an annual basis to fully fund fire pensions?”
“Shall the City of Peoria increase its existing Police Pension tax levy on an annual basis to fully fund police pensions?”
Councilmember Zach Oyler reminded the public that this decision doesn’t raise taxes, but the council is merely looking for public input on the matter.
“This is not a request for a tax increase,” Oyler said. “This is not an endorsement of a tax increase. This is a question being put out for the public to give us their feedback on such.”
City manager Patrick Urich said the city has been using money from its operating budget to pay for police and fire pensions and they were looking for alternative ways to fund them. He said police and fire budgets are 54% of their General Fund Operating Budget.
Councilwoman Moore said if the public votes no, those funds will continue to come out of taxes currently being contributed with no additional increase.
The council also discussed using $550,000 from the South Village TIF Fund to purchase the old Aldi building at 210 s. Western Avenue and eventually turn it into a grocery store.
A few council members pointed out this was their first time hearing the building would be used as a grocery store as the consent agenda stated it would be used as a community center. The matter was deferred to January.
The council also voted 10-1 to cap third-party food delivery service fees, like Grubhub, UberEats, and Doordash, at 10% of the purchase price. This also restricts the delivery services from charging more than 15% of a restaurant’s monthly net sales.
Councilmembers said this vote is meant to offer restaurants more relief during this time as some of these delivery services charge up to 30% of the purchase price.
Council members also voted to defer approving a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after Urich said they haven’t received the consent decree from the federal government yet.