The Metro Peoria Committee has ongoing discussions regarding the following collaborative opportunities between the two units of government:
At his State of the City Address in January, 2011, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis requested the Peoria Police Department and Peoria County Sheriff's Office investigate the feasibility of combining the two largest law enforcement agencies in Peoria County into one metro police agency. The Metro Peoria Committee has assumed oversight of this combined public safety services initiative.
At its October 2012 meeting, Sheriff Michael D. McCoy updated the committee on the progress of Mayor Ardis's directive. Sheriff McCoy explained that the Sheriff's Office (PCSO) and the Peoria Police Department (PPD) already collaborate regularly on crime investigations and other police matters. Completely combining both law enforcement agencies, however, will require overcoming some larger hurdles, particularly identifying which unit of government - the City or the County - would have budgetary control over the newly formed metro police force. Other considerations include differing pay scales, pension programs, and seniority.
More research is required before steps can be taken to begin combining some public safety services. Therefore, the sheriff and the police chief will be visiting four communities in the Midwest that have consolidated police services to determine what worked and what did not work for the jurisdictions involved.
Code violations are the responsibility of property owners to fix. Once notified of code violations many property owners do take the necessary steps to fix the violations. However, some property owners do not comply. When this occurs, the City of Peoria hires contractors to clean up the properties and sends the non-compliant owner a bill for the service. If numerous violations occur, the City may go to court and place a lien on the property. Once the Court places a lien on the property for non-compliance, the lien remains until that property is sold. The properties in question, however, rarely change ownership; thus the City rarely collects the funds spent to clean up the property.
As an alternative to the current system, the City is requesting the County incorporate the unpaid and overdue fines and fees into a property owner's real estate tax bill in lieu of placing a lien on the property. At its October 2012 meeting, County Treasurer Edward T. O'Connor agreed to spend 60 days investigating the feasibility and the resources required to implement such a program on behalf of the City.
Previously, the City and County contracted for economic development services with the Economic Development Council. Now, the City and County are working with other local municipalities, jurisdictions, and business development organizations on a more regional effort to attract new business to, and retain existing business in, Central Illinois. The revitalized economic development efforts go far beyond the two units of government that comprise Metro Peoria and culminate in the newly formed Focus Forward CI group, to which both the City of Peoria and Peoria County belong.
Local businesses seeking to expand or entrepreneurs wanting to start their business in Peoria County are encouraged to learn more about loan opportunities offered by the City and County. For more information on the County's programs, please call Mark Rothert, Assistant County Administrator for Economic Development, at (309) 672-6939. For the City's program, please call the City of Peoria's Economic Development Department at (309) 494-8640.
Peoria County adopted an internal Sustainability Plan in 2011 that addresses six elements related to the everyday operations of the County and its facilities. At its September 2012 meeting, the Metro Peoria Committee discussed the possibility of the City adopting a similar plan, with the two units of government expanding on these internal initiatives to address some of the sustainability needs of the community. A follow-up to this initial discussion is planned for the November meeting.