PEORIA (HOI) - The City of Peoria might be getting into the grocery business, but a mayoral candidate is asking if the city ever asked for community input on the matter.
"The southside is a food desert, it desperately needs a grocery store, and acquiring this building and offering it to a grocer does nothing but help the community," Denise Moore said.
Moore is asking council to approve spending more than a half million dollars on a vacant property on Western that was formally a Save A Lot and Aldi.
Now, mayoral candidate Andres Diaz is questioning the transparency of the council regarding communicating with residents.
"With no input from the local neighborhood group, and without opportunity to offer public input, is poor form," Diaz said.
Diaz says the city is not allowing the community to contribute to decisions, including the local neighborhood group Southside Community for Change.
"How successful of a project can you have when the most engaged in the neighborhood are excluded from the conversation?" Diaz asked.
"We have actively sought community input on everything that we do, so folks who are watching the city council meetings are hearing us talk about these things all the time," Moore said.
Diaz also questions the city's fiscal responsibility, but Moore says this purchase would not hurt the city's budget at all.
"Those funds will come out of the south village TIF. Anyone who does their homework, they understand, those funds cannot be used to pay down the budget," Moore said. "It cannot be used to pay firefighters or police officers or code enforcement. If we were able to buy this building, it will have no impact on the budget."
Diaz says these decisions in the long run will not be in the city's best interest, especially when Peoria is already struggling to balance a budget.