A Publication of WTVP

Retirement often opens the door for reflection and as I prepare to retire from the Peoria County Board, I wonder: What have I achieved? What is my legacy? Only unity of the full board made possible the achievements that have laid the groundwork for future generations. Our bipartisanship cooperation permitted the adoption of Peoria County’s Strategic Plan, within which all other achievements are now attained.

During my first term as chairman, Peoria County took the difficult step of reducing its workforce by 8 percent to achieve financial solvency. We also adopted a comprehensive set of fiscal policies and implemented a new financial reporting mechanism that improved our stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars. As a result, Peoria County increased its cash reserves from $7.7 million at the end of 2002 to an anticipated $41.9 million at the end of this year.

Just as Peoria County strives to spend responsibly and conserve funds, so do the citizens we serve. Thus, when the National Associations of Counties invited the County of Peoria to participate in a free program that would save citizens money on prescription drugs, we decided to participate. Since its inception on June 1 of this year, the program has saved residents more than $30,000 on prescription drugs.

The prescription program is indicative of our commitment to ensuring residents have an opportunity for healthy living, but that commitment is not complete without also providing a safe environment. This spring, therefore, the County Board introduced a building code to better assure public safety and protect residents by enhancing the quality not only of newly constructed buildings but also of existing buildings with new construction.

Sure, the building code enhances all structures within the county, but what of the environment itself? To discourage dumping in 2007 and beyond, residents in outlying municipalities will have an opportunity twice a year to discard waste free of charge that would otherwise only be accepted at the Peoria City/County landfill for a fee. In addition, Peoria County’s Recycling Department will continue its annual tire collection program, allowing residents in rotating zip codes an opportunity to recycle damaged, dumped, unwanted or unused tires.

Recycling is crucial to preserving the environment, but it is also the mainstay of Keystone Steel & Wire, which continues to operate its Bartonville plant in part due to a $10 million grant Peoria County was able to secure by working closely with local legislators and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Peoria County’s Strategic Plan strives toward financial solvency, citizen and governmental partnerships, quality growth, quality services and a growing economy. I have highlighted just a few achievements my colleagues and I have made toward these goals, and as I relinquish my seat on the board this month, I am confident my successor and her colleagues will continue our legacy in the years to come. Thank you for the opportunity to have served. IBI