Two words many Peoria city workers were hoping to hear "no layoffs." The good news is there are no layoffs under the budget approved Tuesday night, thanks in part to other employees. City council members don't want to compromise public safety as they try to close a nearly 8 million dollar budget gap.
Peoria police, fire and code enforcement officers are considered front line safety jobs for residents. City Manager Patrick Urich says public safety layoffs were prevented because several city employees opted for a special leave package.
"By having 16 people take the voluntary separation initiative we're looking at not having any layoffs this year cause we're gonna be able to back fill other positions that were slated for layoffs, " he said.
The city manager says most of those taking the offer are from code enforcement, police clerical staff and human resources. He says the fire department will lose six jobs next year. The city backed off a recommendation to close a fire engine. Two city council members say they want to see reforms to police and fire pension which soaks up a lot of the city's budget.
"We're not out to deny anybody their pension, our fire fighters, our police they deserve what they're entitled to. What we need to find with Springfield is a sustainable way to make these pensions something that will last into the future. The trajectory we're on now just doesn't work for anybody, " said Peoria City Council Member Tim Riggenbach.
"You see a commitment to public safety, you see a commitment to some of the priorities that the council has put. But my concerns really come from the financial stability of what we see there and what it could mean for the citizens of Peoria as we go forward," said Peoria City Council Member Sid Firetruck.
The city manager says he expects that the 14 vacancies in the police department will eventually be filled. He says they will closely monitor spending under the new budget over the months ahead.
Patrick Urich says if revenue projections fall short and there are more cuts in state spending the city will make adjustments as necessary.