The City of Peoria will have fewer firefighters and policemen next year. But it will be through voluntary retirement, not city imposed layoffs.
The city council Tuesday night unanimously voted to establish a voluntary separation incentive. It allows older public safety employees to retire earlier than anticipated and still participate in the city’s healthcare plan for several years.
Firefighters Local 50 president Ryan Brady says the fire department will lose a lot of institutional knowledge. “When you lose those Tier One top people and captain’s positions, and you lose that 20-plus years of experience, that’s something that we can’t just make up at nine weeks in a fire academy. That’s knowledge that they’ve gained during an entire career so immediately, that’s one of the things we’ll face as far as losing service levels.”
City manager Patrick Urich expects 15 people to sign up for the inventive. It could save the city one-point-five million dollars. Qualified employees have until December 10 to notify the city of their intention.
Council Service Compensations in Continuing Budget Crisis
As the Peoria City Council continues to look for ways to cover a shortfall of nearly $7-million in next year’s budget, council members last night decided not to cut their own benefits.
Council members earn $16,500 annually. They can also participate in the city’s pension program, enroll in the health care plan and receive $400 monthly for mileage.
Councilman Sid Ruckriegel asked fellow council members to eliminate participation in the pension and health care programs, and to reduce mileage reimbursement to $100 a month.
He says council members need to share in the pain of making budget cuts. “Shall we not participate in any of those cuts as we have asked all of the other departments to do, or will we fully compensate ourselves beyond what is originally set out. Which is an annual salary and a vehicle fee.”
Councilwoman Beth Akeson argued against the proposal, saying council members have the option of voluntarily not participating in those plans. Other council members agreed, voting down all three motions by decided margins.