The City of Peoria has been chosen to participate in a nationwide program examining ways to confront budget issues from COVID-19 and to assist economic recovery.
The new effort, entitled City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery, is part of the What Works Cities initiative developed by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project aims to help cities develop plans for financial recovery in the wake of COVID-19 – while also taking low-income neighborhoods and residents into consideration.
“Cities across the country are running low on funds as a result of the pandemic, and we're looking at ways to keep cities running,” said Peoria Finance Director Jim Scroggins. “We’re basically looking at increasing revenues and incorporating budget decisions.
“Adding to this would be looking at this through an equity lens, so that when we're making decisions, that we’re taking into account that if we add a revenue source that we're not disproportionately impacting low-income families, or if we're making expenditure decisions that it’s not detrimental to certain neighborhoods because we're not doing capital improvements there.”
The 15-month program will have leaders of 30 cities from across the country participating in discussions and interactive workshops with financial experts from the public, private and academic sectors. Topics will include how to use COVID-19 relief funds, seeking funding to foster strong budget health, and incorporating equity analysis into budget decisions.
“The pandemic has both highlighted and reinforced the disproportionate impacts of a major disruption or crisis on the most vulnerable in our community,” Mayor Jim Ardis said in a news release. “With that in mind, we see making fair-minded spending decisions as a critically important goal for the future of Peoria.”
Peoria joins Springfield as the only two Illinois cities participating in the program, joining such major markets as Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City.
“It's an opportunity just to learn from other municipalities, too, as well as some things that maybe that they've been successful in doing and things that (they do) not find success in,” said Scroggins.
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