Posts Tagged city council debates cutting fire department personnel

Peoria Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from centralillinoisproud,com:

Tuesday night Peoria city leaders approved a new proposal that does make cuts to the fire department, but not the cuts some feared. Previously it was a possibility that 22 firefighters could be laid off, but a new proposal wouldn’t require any layoffs. 

Firefighters retiring will not be replaced, but the plan will avoid having to layoff any firefighters. Two rescue squads are being taken out of service. Equipment from the rescue squads will not be transferred to fire trucks. 

The city agreed on moving around TIF dollars and shutting down the Northside Riverfront TIF. Another change was the logistics of the Public Safety Pension Fee. The new proposed structure of the fee will be the following:

  • $15 for parcels with no structure erected on the property.
  • $50 for parcels 5,000 square feet or smaller.
  • $250 for parcels over 5,000 square feet but less than 10,000
  • $300 for parcel over 10,000 square feet

For the next 5 years this parcel fee will increase yearly $5 dollars for the property owners paying $50, and increase $50 per year for those paying $250. 

While this will help the budget, there are still a number of other avenues the council must vote on before the entire $6 million-dollar gap is full.


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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

The Peoria City Council voted 8-3 Tuesday to approve eliminating 22 firefighter and 16 police positions as part of a move to close a $6 million budget hole. Additionally, reductions were made in the city’s community development department. For weeks, council members have been struggling with ways to close the shortfall in the 2019 budget that has to be approved by the end of December. The personnel cuts would result in a $3 million savings. Additional revenue sources will need to be approved in the next few weeks.

The cuts don’t mean 22 firefighters will be laid off but vacancies that are currently open will not be filled within the departments. The actual number could vary depending on how many employees elect to take advantage of retirement incentives for those with 20 years of service or more.

While not taking any direct action on implementing new revenue streams for the city, council members approved the first reading of a public safety pension fee by a 9-2 vote. That fee, if formally approved, would impose a $50 fee on every parcel of land in Peoria with a structure. Parcels over 5,000 square feet would pay $300 annually. The money from the fee would not go into the general fund but go directly toward paying off pension payments for the city’s fire and police employees.

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Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

After many comments, complaints, and dire warnings, members of the Peoria City Council voted 7-4 in a non-binding, advisory vote that approved the cuts to the police and fire departments as city hall tries to claw its way out of a $6 million budget shortfall.

During the four plus hour-long special meeting, council members spent hours discussing and debating ways to plug holes without crippling day to day operations. Cutting 22 firefighter positions and taking $1.1 million out of the police budget would have a definite impact, said the chiefs of both departments.

Fire Chief Ed Olehy said that adjustments that have been proposed would place Peoria’s fire department at its lowest staff in 30 years and mean longer response times for citizens in the southern valley, downtown, and the Bradley University area. He said that computer studies indicate a two-minute difference in travel time without Engine 2. Fire safety and educational programs will be reduced and insurance costs are likely to increase if the cuts are approved.

Interim Police Chief Loren Marion III said a police force that currently has 212 employees would have 205 at the end of the year. Fewer tickets will be issued, fewer seizures of drugs and contraband, and a longer wait for officers to reach an accident site would result.

That 7-4 vote wasn’t the final vote and there are several hours of discussion and debate left before the final vote occurs later this year. Still, the vote did signal where some stood.

Revenue recommendations that were previously approved in an advisory vote included a public safety pension fee that would place a $50 fee on property owners of under 5,000 square feet and $300 for properties of over 5,000 square feet. That measure, if formally approved, would raise an estimated $2.2 million. A 2 percent package liquor tax would raise $700,000 and EMS billing by the fire department would raise an estimated $200,000.

The city manager said that the city has been cutting other departments in recent years and sparing public safety positions. “We can no longer afford to do that. Public safety costs (police and fire pensions) are growing faster than anything else in the budget,” he said.

thanks Dennis

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