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Peoria City Council unanimously passes new $324 million biennial budget

Tim Shelley

After weeks of meetings and discussion, the Peoria City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the city's $324 million biennial budget for 2024 and 2025.

At-large council member Zachary Oyler, in his first affirmative vote for a budget in years, commented on the sheer size of the budget that reflects a 5.4% increase from what was projected earlier this year.

"I do have heartburn with the size of the budget, and we’re going to have to be very cautious over the next few years, as some of the things roll off like the COVID assistance relief funds," he said.

Fourth District council member Andre Allen praised how the budget conversations proceeded this time around.

"It’s very humbling to be able to vote on a budget of this magnitude as we look to address the many needs and opportunities within our city. So I applaud the process,” he said.

The budget includes more than $100 million in capital projects that are expected to slide off future budgets as they're completed. The city council added about $3 million to the original budget proposal, including $1.2 million to restore a fire rescue company. The council used around $33 million in fund balances to bridge a gap between expenses and revenues.

Also on the meeting agenda were 12 Consent Agenda items. These ranged from approving 71 new license plate reader cameras and 11 new tasers for the police station, to authorizing payments for sewer overflow control projects and other infrastructure and public works projects.

All but one of the 12 agenda items were approved. A vote to replace some brick streets with concrete on Peoria's South Side was deferred.

“I just think most people would appreciate maintaining the look of the community based on how most of those streets in that area have been built, so, I would hate to see this project go forward," said First District council member Denise Jackson. "You know, we have streets in areas especially on these bricked roads — it would be different if it were an asphalt road — but, when you do something like that on a brick road it just takes away from the aesthetics, and the beauty, and the character.”

In addition to the budget items, a new police data transparency dashboard project was presented to the council.

The aim of the Know More No More police transparency dashboard is to “empower our community through transparent and honest communication, to change lives and reduce crime”, with its purpose being “to build trust, peace, unity and partnership throughout Peoria, IL.”

The public dashboard is accessible via the Peoria Police Department website. It contains live updated numbers on shooting incidents, gunshot victims, and homicides. Users can view a Gunshot Victim Dashboard map of Peoria, and search incidents by year, month, day of the week, victim demographics, police district, and location.

On the Community Engagement page, users can fill out a survey on their experience after interacting with an officer.

Linda Butler, a volunteer chaplain with the Peoria Police Department, read aloud a letter she wrote containing historical context behind the transparency dashboard project.

“Know the data, share the data, own the data, and change the data. Each phrase connecting a pathway to a change in community safety. Know More, No More. Which is an empowerment phrase with action resulting from knowledge, value of community, and the use of resources which can produce a change in the data in shootings and deaths that have been highlighted in Peoria since 2021," Butler said.

Multiple members of the council praised the Know More No More transparency initiative, including Bernice Gordon-Young.

“When you look at this collectively, in this small community with this large problem, thank you for outlining it so that we can see it," she said.

Council member Kiran Velpula asked if national shooting data could be added to the dashboard so that Peoria numbers could be compared side-by-side. The police department agreed to add that data.

Andrea graduated from Richwoods High School in 2015 and from Grinnell College in 2019. She joined the station as a correspondent in 2023.