PEORIA — Within five minutes, the Peoria City Council committed just over $10 million of its $47 million received as part of the latest federal COVID relief package to help end furloughs and anticipated borrowing to balance this year’s budget.
The council’s votes means that planned borrowing of up to $10 million, needed to help plug a budgetary sink hole created by the pandemic last year, will not happen. City Hall hadn’t borrowed any money yet so right now, the $10 million will sit in the bank, earning 0.4% interest until it’s withdrawn.
But the move will mean the city will not have to pay interest on a loan that would have been paid back over several years.
The other money, $301,685, was to end furloughs for non-union employees who had been taking unpaid time off as another tool to balance the budget. City Manager Patrick Urich said the money received last month by the city allowed it to go back to March 3 and reimburse those employees for the paychecks they missed.
Earlier this year, when the $1.9 trillion American Relief Plan was signed into law, Peoria learned it would be getting $47 million as way to help the city recover from the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus.
Both measures passed unanimously and without any discussion. Last week, at their policy session, council members made it clear they supported such moves but also wanted to take a slower and steadier pace on what to do with the rest of the money.
The council meeting was relatively short as the members were to interview the three finalists for the at-large position that became vacant when Rita Ali was elected mayor. Those finalists — Kim Armstrong, James Kemper and Kiran Velpula — were to meet with the council in closed session.