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So, how would you do the city budget?

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Peoria residents will get a chance to fix the city’s upcoming budget deficits and say how they think the city should spend its money next year.

The city is ready to start the 2015 Online Budget Challenge, “an interactive tool that invites residents and business owners to experience the type of policy choices involved in balancing the city’s budget,” according to a news release issued Monday.

From now through May 10 residents can visit to decide how they would allocate available dollars across city services. There is a big caveat, however: Participants must begin with the current budget deficit, an amount that will either increase or decrease, depending on their spending choices, the city said.

“The goal of each participant will be to balance the budget,” the city said in the news release.

Beginning Thursday, April 9, the city will host weekly discussions about the budget and the different departments and line items are affected. That first meeting will be Thursday at 6 p.m. at Renaissance Coliseum at Bradley University. The focus of the meeting will will the city’s administrative services.

The other four budget sessions, all of which will begin at 6 p.m., will be:

  • April 16 at the Bonnie Noble Center auditorium at Lakeview; the focus will be the Peoria Police Department.
  • April 23 at the Peoria Public Library Main Branch at Main and Monroe streets, lower level auditorium; the focus will be on the Peoria Fire Department and Emergency Communications.
  • April 30 at the Peoria Public Library North Branch, 3001 W. Grand Parkway, McKenzie Room, with the focus on the Public Works Department.
  • May 7 at Illinois Central College North Campus, Arbor Hall, 5407 N. University St., and the focus will be on Community Development, Economic Development and Library Services.

Residents are encouraged to attend all sessions and also participate online. Those without internet access may use computers at any of the Peoria Public Library locations to take the challenge. Paper comment cards will be also available at each budget meeting.

Feedback from the meetings and results of the online challenge will be compiled by city staff, then presented to the City Council ahead of its budget planning sessions later in the year to get an idea of what citizens are thinking. Nothing from the challenge will be binding to the city.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).