During Tuesday’s Peoria City Council meeting the horseshoe was presented with the preliminary numbers for their upcoming budget.
City Manager Patrick Urich told the council they will need to cut $2 million next fiscal year and then another $1.2 million in 2021.
Last year a new public safety pension fee and increases in some taxes helped bring the deficit from $8 million to $2 million but there are still tough decisions to make to balance the budget.
“On one hand $2 million is a lot more manageable but when you consider the fact that we’ve downsized the operation as much as we can,” Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said. “It won’t be as easy to say we’ll reduce here or we’ll reduce there.”
The council discussed decisions coming out out Springfield that will help the city financially like a change to the tax code that is expected to bring in millions from online sales taxes beginning next year.
Though Ardis said there are some other choices from the capital that will not be as beneficial.
“Expenses that they’ve put on the backs of especially of business people is not helping us and it’s not helping us attract new business into our community and our state. The minimum wage hike is going to cripple a lot of small business and a lot of non-profits,” he said.
Peoria NAACP President Marvin Hightower called the mayor out for these comments claiming they create bias.
“The Peoria City Council is supposed to be nonpartisan that interjected partisanship because we know that there is a party that is against the minimum wage,” Hightower said.
Hightower is also concerned about who will bear the burden of closing what remains of the deficit.
“Where is the other 2 million dollars gonna come from that is the question the $100,000 question people are already hurting the answer is its got to be us. For people that are already struggling it’s going to be devastating,” he said.
The city talked about potentially raising their garbage collection fee as it is $4.5 million in the red. Ardis says he does not want to raise the city’s property taxes to close the deficit because that is not something constituents want.
Last year, the community rallied behind police and fire as the council considered cutting their services to save money and there is no word yet on if they will be on the chopping block this time around.
“One of the last things we wanna do is cut positions especially when we are as lean as we are,” Ardis said.
According to Ardis the city currently has the lowest number of employees in 25 years.