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A Publication of WTVP

The past year has been a challenging year for the City of Peoria. Like most cities and states across America, we’ve struggled with falling revenue, resulting from a sluggish economy, as well as the continuing economic effects of September 11, 2001.

The Peoria City Council made some tough decisions for fiscal year 2002 to reach a balanced budget without impacting core city services, primarily fire and police protection. The budget plan included a one-half cent sales tax increase, increases in city fees, and a reduction in city staff to reach a balanced budget for the year. Without these actions, the city would have faced a potential budget deficit of $11 million in 2003.

Even with a tight 2002 budget, we faced another deficit of more than $5 million for fiscal 2003. The Peoria City Council and city management worked together to balance our city budget this year, but it wasn’t an easy process. Many of the actions taken, including a combination of fund transfers from capital programs, cutting expenses, and further reducing city staff, were merely stop gap measures to reach a consensus on a balanced budget. To get the city back on the right financial track, we must address the fundamental issue that operating expenses exceed operating revenues by a substantial amount.

We’re in the final stages of preparing plans that will deal with governmental, economic, quality of life, and many other issues facing the city. Vision 2020 is a plan that will be instrumental in creating innovative reforms to change the way we do the people’s business in Peoria. The Heart of Peoria plan is a comprehensive plan to create a more vibrant and livable downtown and adjacent neighborhoods.

The next step is to develop implementable action plans. We’ll seek to improve the effective and efficient delivery of city services. We’ll also include recommendations for restructuring city government and a budget process driven by objectives rather than politics. We’ll look at new ways to continue the progress we’ve made in the downtown and riverfront areas. I look forward to a broad base of involvement and support in these efforts.

Peorians enjoyed the announcement of many exciting cultural and commercial venues in 2002, including an expanded Glen Oak Zoo, a collaborative Lakeview Museum downtown, and the Shoppes at Grand Prairie to name a few. It’s very important we continue to do all we can to expand and grow our economy so we can attract new businesses and residents to our community.

Our city, state, and nation have faced some of the most difficult times in our history since that fateful day in September 2001. We’ve persevered by government working hand in hand with neighbors and families. With a renewed civic and community spirit, we will continue to work together to make Peoria the best it can be. IBI

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