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Peoria Heights trustees won't pursue sales tax increase as avenue for budget fix

Peoria Heights Village Hall by Tower Park
Collin Schopp
Peoria Heights Village Hall by Tower Park

A sales tax increase is no longer on the table for Peoria Heights as the village seeks to balance out its budget.

Tuesday evening, Peoria Heights trustees voted to deny the proposed sales tax increase of a quarter of a percent.

Trustee Sarah DeVore initially supported the tax increase but flipped her position and encouraged fellow trustees to vote against it, saying there were other priorities to consider.

“I am in no way saying I wouldn’t approve more money next year, but we have a lot of things in the work that we need to consider,” DeVore said. “We have a dire water issue that is very costly that we need to pay for. The school board has recently raised property taxes by six percent, which will put a hardship on the residents and the businesses.”

DeVore also mentioned grant opportunities that require the village to match funding.

“We are faced with the choice of walking away from those opportunities altogether, or giving ourselves a fighting chance to have both,” DeVore said. “In my opinion, reducing the fire department’s proposed budget by $390,000 will allow us to keep moving in the direction we have paid for.”

While DeVore said she knows a tax increase is coming in the future, she clarified she would only vote for an increase if it was necessary.

Trustee Brandon Wisenberg echoed Devore’s statement. He said said the board needs to collaborate with the fire department on a more sustainable solution to balance the budget while gradually growing the fire department.

As WCBU’s Collin Schopp previously reported, trustees have worked on finding a solution to the fire department's budget issue for some time. While the sales tax increase was shot down, trustees had previously suggested other ideas to trim the village’s remaining deficit of what was initially a nearly $800,000 deficit.

Some of those ideas include eliminating subsidies for garbage collection fees, making cuts in the police department, and reducing stipends for volunteer firefighters, as well as skipping some Christmas decorations.

Mike Smith is an correspondent with WCBU in Peoria. He joined the station in 2023.