The Watch | Keeping an eye on housekeeping



Early spring cleaning and preparation for a long election season apparently dominated the agendas for several local governments recently.

According to Local Government Observer (LOGO) reports from the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria, the Peoria County Election Commission did both at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Housekeeping-wise, commissioners agreed to allow their members to attend meetings by video and/or audio. The City of Peoria’s election commission once did it that way, and the current election commission used Peoria County Board policy as a model: The member’s absence must be because of illness or employment issues. Members in attendance must consent unanimously. And the off-site member may not count as part of the quorum, but may vote.

Along with purchasing smaller items like a scanner and “future voter” stickers for children, commissioners approved the low bid of $5,587 from Mordue to deliver election equipment during this year’s two elections.

Regarding election prep, training for judges has begun and the ballot has been certified. As of Jan. 14, there were roughly 113,000 registered voters in the county and 50 people had requested mail-in ballots. Military and overseas ballots were scheduled to go out 45 days before the March 17 election.

The Peoria City Council also took up some tidying issues at its own Jan. 14 meeting. The council amended the city code to comply with Illinois traffic laws on towing private vehicles. It deferred discussion of parking on Beverly Court so residents could have time to weigh in. And it started to discuss whether having a hearing officer replace the animal review board would be a more efficient use of resources.

City Manager Patrick Urich answered questions from the council regarding the recent bills sent to residents for the consolidated pension fee for 2019. This fee will be for three years, through 2021, when it will be retired.

Housekeeping issues between the city and Peoria Housing Authority also arose. In response to a question about a resident situation, Peoria’s Community Development Director Ross Black said city staff met with PHA leadership. City staff inspected the unit in 2019 and code violations identified were resolved by PHA. PHA properties do fall under city ordinances but PHA does its own inspections. Black also clarified that PHA operates separately from City of Peoria. The self inspection form for rental properties has been updated for 2020 and is to be completed for new tenants but not required annually.

The Jan. 6 Peoria Housing Authority meeting started with a public comment from Regina Morgan, who works with young men and women at Harrison Homes. Morgan expressed concern about ongoing issues with some of the residential units, such as mold, flooding of the kitchen in one unit and gas-like smells. PHA Director Jackie Newman asked staff if work orders had been placed. She asked the Harrison manager to follow up and make it a priority.

Late fees for monthly rent were changed from $50 per occurrence to $10 after the 5th of each month and lease agreements were changed to reflect this. In addition, PHA staff will help residents budget to ensure they meet monthly rent requirements. That change took effect Feb. 1.

On Jan. 22, the Peoria Park District received no public comments about its intent to issue $5 million in general obligation park bonds for capital improvements.

Staff member Mike Friberg reported on emergency repairs on Grandview Drive following a landslide on July 7, 2019. N.E. Finch Co. did the work, a time and materials no-bid award capped at $85,000. The landslide was caused by groundwater — a problem not anticipated in the original construction. A groundwater drainage system to prevent this problem from reoccurring will need to be added to the site, increasing the project’s cost significantly.

An amendment to the sexual harassment policy was approved to comply with a new state law. The amendment adds trustees to the policy, requiring reporting and an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment by an elected official against another elected official.

Peoria Zoological Society’s request for a membership dues increase was approved. The last membership dues increase was in 2017.

By category, increases are: Joint, up $5 to $65; Family/Grandparent up $5 to $95; Family Plus/Grandparent Plus up $10 to $125; Caregiver up $10 to $130; Caregiver Plus up $15 to $160. Increases were recommended by PZS and Peoria Zoo staffs.

For full LOGO reports of local meetings, check

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