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Peoria's upcoming strategic planning process will define the city's future priorities

Tim Shelley

What's in a city's strategic plan? More or less, it's the aspirational roadmap for where the community wants to go in the years ahead.

"That's the most important job that a policymaker can do, is set that vision for where they want us as the city organization to utilize the resources of the city in order to achieve that vision," said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich. "And so the strategic plan helps to inform that."

The city of Peoria last developed a strategic plan in 2017 and updated it in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. That process led to the city's vision statement for 2025, defining Peoria as a "safe, beautiful, and growing city."

This year's process kicks off with two days of public input sessions at the Peoria Civic Center on June 1-2.

Urich said the sessions will look at the current state of the city through three different lenses: diversity, equity, and inclusion; public safety; and arts and culture.

The final product will be used to guide the city budgeting process this fall, Urich said. That will be important as state and federal COVID-19 stimulus funds begin to dry up.

"We all know that we're riding a wave right now that's going to come back down," he said. "And as we prepare for that, we're going to have to prepare for, what are the things that we really want to be doing here in the future? And how are we going to be able to do that?"

The city's multimillion dollar unfunded pension liability is one consideration. Those costs continue to balloon, with fire and police pensions expected to absorb more than one of every three dollars in the city's General Fund by 2027.

"With pensions and with no reform, we know that we have more obligations financially, that we're gonna have to set aside resources, and we take those resources away. If the council doesn't want to raise taxes, that means that it's taking it away from current operations," he said.

Urich said the city council wants staff and the community to have opportunities to offer input. More than 200 people have signed up so far. He said the sessions are configured in such a way that people won't have to take a full two days off work to participate.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.