County Board: County Issues Column
Editorials and Articles of Interest to Peoria County Citizens
Public information played a large role in the aftermath of the November tornadoes that struck Tazewell, Woodford and other counties throughout the state. Getting accurate and timely information to the victims, local and national media, and the general public, as well as thwarting misinformation and controlling rumors, is crucial in times of emergency. Fortunately, our region has a team of public information officers (PIO) trained and ready to respond to a large-scale disaster that occurs anywhere in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and Stark counties.
Learn more about how Local PIOs Respond to Disaster in Peoria Magazine's January 2014 issue of InterBusiness Issues
Two years ago, the Peoria County Board adopted an internal sustainability plan that helps the County maintain a leadership role in environmental stewardship. At our facilities and in our operations, the County engages in pollution prevention and implements practices that maximize beneficial effects on the environment while reducing harmful ones. The County's Sustainability Team uses performance measures to assess the impact of these efforts, and has recently developed a two-year progress report to highlight successes and identify areas in need of improvement.
Learn more about Sustaining Progress in Peoria Magazine's November 2013 issue of InterBusiness Issues
As the summer winds down, that always means another school year is fast approaching. Fall schedules can become increasingly hectic. In this ever-changing, fast-paced world, we sometimes struggle to find time to become actively involved in our community.
Learn more about Becoming a Civic Leader in Peoria Magazine's September 2013 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
This summer, the County of Peoria and our nursing home residents are looking forward to the opening of Heddington Oaks, the new nursing facility located on Heading Avenue in West Peoria. With the support of taxpayers and the commitment of the County Board to continue providing skilled nursing care for senior citizens in the community, we have been able to construct a magnificent, state-of-the-art care center that will be home to 214 residents, including 80 persons living with Alzheimer's.
Learn more about Welcome to Heddington Oaks in Peoria Magazine's July 2013 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
While Illinois is not included in the region known as "Tornado Alley," the state does get its share of deadly tornadoes this time of year. Indeed, 80 percent of Illinois tornadoes occur between the months of April and June, with a total of 212 deaths and 4,254 injuries since 1950. Tornadoes, damaging winds and other severe weather hazards have prompted the National Weather Service to build a "Weather Ready Nation" in an effort to save lives. With the support of state and local emergency management agencies, including Peoria County's Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the country has become better prepared to protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from weather-related disasters.
Learn more about Are you Ready? in Peoria Magazine's May 2013 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Last year, the Peoria County Sheriff's Office established its own volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) Team to participate in searches for wandering and missing persons. The disappearance of John Garrett, a 73-year-old man living with Alzheimer's, nearly a year ago was the final impetus behind the decision to create a local SAR team. At the time, Peoria County's mobile and mounted auxiliary personnel were unable to participate in the extensive search efforts for Mr. Garrett due to lack of certification.
Learn more about County Seeks Tracking system in Peoria Magazine's January 2013 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
As chairman of the Peoria County Board, I am responsible for leading a $127.5-million organization with just over 900 employees, providing public services in 27 different departments. Certainly, I cannot do this alone; I rely on my colleagues on the County Board and many others to help ensure Peoria County is a financially sound, high-performing public organization that provides core county services in a cost-effective manner. For Peoria County to be a regional leader, we must employ quality leaders, from an elected board and county-wide elected officials to an appointed county administrator and management staff.
Learn more about Leadership: A Team Effort Peoria Magazine's November 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In August 2011, the Peoria County Board adopted an internal sustainability plan that provides guidelines designed to establish Peoria County government as a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainability. The plan meets the board's goals of ensuring a safe and healthy community, being a high-performing public organization, and providing high-quality public facilities for residents and visitors. The plan also affirms the board's commitment to improving the long-term quality and regenerative capacity of environmental, social and economic systems that support our organization and our community.
Learn more about A Sustainable Workplace in Peoria Magazine's September 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Peoria County's commitment to growing the county and retaining local businesses is demonstrated by its fortification of an economic development department established in 2011. The department now includes an assistant county administrator for economic development and both a regional and a rural economic development coordinator. This team of experienced professionals is charged with attracting new business to the county and to the region, as well as helping local businesses in our community become stronger or expand
Learn more about A Resource for Business Growth in Peoria Magazine's July 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Elections allow people to have a voice. Whether you are an athlete voting for team captain, a director voting for chairman or a U.S. citizen voting for president, your vote carries equal weight to that of your teammate, colleague or neighbor. Elections are the crux of a democratic society. Our nation's primary and general elections would not be possible, however, without election judges.
Learn more about You Be the Judge! in Peoria Magazine's May 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Peoria County is celebrating "Healthy Counties, Healthy Families" during National County Government Month (NCGM) this April. The National Association of Counties sponsors NCGM and more than 1,000 counties across the country participate by hosting community events and activities. The intent is to raise awareness and understanding of the role and responsibilities of county government. Therefore, in conjunction with NCGM, Peoria County plans a variety of events to better engage our citizens in local government.
Learn more about Healthy Counties in Peoria Magazine's March 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) has one of the best, if not the best, auxiliary deputy programs in the State of Illinois. Auxiliary deputies are a corps of well-trained volunteers that complement the County's public safety efforts by serving as an invaluable resource when the need arises. The PCSO has both mobile and mounted auxiliary units that have participated in countless assignments and hundreds of hours of training, including firearms and search and rescue.
Learn more about Join the Best in Peoria Magazine's January 2012 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
An organization cannot prosper and succeed without strong leadership. With that in mind, Peoria County is fortunate to welcome a new leader in Lori Curtis Luther. Lori assumed the post of county administrator this August and has already become an invaluable asset to our organization. She came to us from the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she served as city administrator. Her public administrative background includes management at both the city and county levels. The County Board, elected officials and staff are excited to have Lori on our team, and we look forward to a long future with her at the helm.
Learn more about A Welcome Leader in Peoria Magazine's November 2011 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that disasters, natural and man-made, happen. They may be on the smaller scale of an automobile accident or a house fire, or much larger, like Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti. How quickly we respond to disaster and how successfully we recover depends on how prepared we are beforehand. September is National Preparedness Month, and there is no better time than now to make sure your family is prepared when disaster strikes.
Learn more about The Time to Prepare Is Now in Peoria Magazine's September 2011 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Change is coming. Since 1848, Peoria County has owned and operated a skilled care nursing home that serves county residents. This care home became Bel-Wood Nursing Home in 1964, when the current facility was built. Forty-plus years later, it is in need of major renovation, including the installation of a sprinkler system by August 2013 to meet new Illinois Department of Public Health life-safety requirements.
Learn more about A Good Time for Change in Peoria Magazine's July 2011 issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria-area region has countless events, festivals and places that make us a tourism destination. For example, the County hosts the Arts in Education Spring Celebration each year on the courthouse grounds, which brings several thousand students and their families to downtown Peoria to celebrate the visual and performing arts in our schools. It seems that all too often, though, when we talk about tourism, our immediate attention is drawn to the highly visible events and places that have an outwardly noticeable impact on our community, like March Madness, Steamboat Days, Erin Feis, Oktoberfest and all the various ethnic festivals, Blues Fest, the fireworks on July 4th, or the Heart of Illinois Fair.
Learn more about Small-Town Tourism in Peoria Magazine's May issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In 2010, the Peoria County Board set about developing and implementing an internal sustainability plan as a goal for the organization. As a result, a sustainability committee was formed under the leadership of our Recycling and Resource Conservation Department that includes employees from various county departments as well as community representatives from local environmental groups. To date, specific elements, goals and objectives have been identified to help us integrate additional sustainable practices, stewardship and resource conservation into our operations and services. Elements of the plan include facilities, operations, land use, purchasing, human resources and solid waste.
Learn more about Greening Our Workplace in Peoria Magazine's March issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In 2009, the Peoria County Board adopted four short-term strategic goals to help advance its vision that by 2025, Peoria County will be a collection of livable, sustainable communities with a strong, growing economy and connectivity within the region and to the world, providing opportunity for all its residents. The first of these four goals is to provide a safe and healthy community in which people can live, work and play, so that residents feel safe and secure at any location in Peoria County, including on our roadways.
Learn more about Another STEP in the Right Direction in Peoria Magazine's January issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Congratulations to the 40 Leaders Under Forty Class of 2010! I am always excited to learn about the professional and personal accomplishments of this newest generation of leaders in our community, and I commend this year’s recipients on their latest achievement. It is leaders like those recognized in this issue—as well as the ones who have gone before and those who will follow—that keep Peoria County on the map. These men and women have typically started their careers here and are raising their families here. Their ability to lead by example and influence others strengthens our community by attracting new business, new residents and more visitors to the region. Without growth, Peoria County would not succeed.
Learn more about Taking the Lead in Growth in Peoria Magazine's November issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Property tax is the largest single tax in Illinois, and the primary funding source for taxing bodies in Peoria County. Public schools, libraries, airport districts and units of local government receive money from property taxes. Peoria County uses its portion of property taxes—on average, about 10 percent—to pay for services such as public safety, elections, land use planning, health services and much more.
Learn more about The Process of Appeal in Peoria Magazine's September issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Each spring, the County Board participates in a strategic planning process that provides an opportunity for board members to address challenges for the coming year by developing an annual action plan. Last month, the board adopted a plan that will further advance our short-term goals and help Peoria County become a collection of livable, sustainable communities with a strong, growing economy and connectivity within the region and to the world, in accordance with the board's vision for our future.
Learn more about Committed to Community in Peoria Magazine's July issue of InterBusiness Issues.
As the end of another school year draws near, many high school students are thinking about their future: Will they apply to college? Join the military? Start a career? Even students graduating from middle school this spring are already planning for graduating from high school in 2014. The future looms, and in this difficult economy when jobs are scarce and unemployment is in the double digits, students are worried that their options after graduation are limited.
Learn more about A New Generation of Leaders in Peoria Magazine's May issue of InterBusiness Issues.
It's in our hands. A simple sentence that sends a powerful message, this tagline for the 2010 Decennial Census is intended to remind every resident of Peoria County that participating in this year's count is "in our hands." But what, exactly, is it? Nothing short of $400 billion and equal representation.
Learn how It's In Our Hands in Peoria Magazine's March issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Peoria County's Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Ad-Hoc Committee was created to address a glaring lack of county dollars spent on contracts with—and procurements from—minority, women and disadvantaged-owned businesses (collectively known as MBEs). Representatives from minority advocacy groups, local trade unions, institutes of higher education, private business and the faith-based community join Peoria County board members and staff on this committee.
Learn more about A Partnership for Opportunity in Peoria Magazine's January issue of InterBusiness Issues.
This year, the seasonal flu virus and the H1N1 influenza virus, a novel infectious disease with varying degrees of severity, are circulating simultaneously, and local governments have a responsibility to inform and protect our citizens as much as possible. We are also charged with safeguarding our economy against further tumult. We cannot achieve these objectives, however, without involving local business partners. It is important that local businesses help prepare for the flu season by sharing best prevention practices with their employees.
Learn more about Making H1N1 Your Business in Peoria Magazine's November issue of InterBusiness Issues.
When the County Board adopts its annual strategic plan agenda, we always have the future of Peoria County in mind. Never has this been more evident than during this year's planning session, however. New short-term goals were adopted, each including elements of sustainability that allow us to conserve energy and natural resources, improve the resiliency and health of our environment, and save money in the long run.
Learn more about Elements of Sustainability in Peoria Magazine's September issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Annually, the County Board revisits its strategic plan and develops new action items for the coming year. In addition to prioritizing agenda items this spring, the board also reconsidered its five primary goals and its long-term vision, and decided it is time for change. Therefore, at its June meeting, the County Board adopted a new vision and short-term goals that better reflect the future of our community and the fluid reality of local government.
Learn more about County Committed to Quality in Peoria Magazine's July issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Nestled within the County of Peoria are many attractions that draw visitors to the region: recreational opportunities for active people, state parks for outdoor enthusiasts, gorgeous gardens for green thumbs, museums for history buffs, and professional teams for sports fans. The Glen Oak Zoo, Luthy Botanical Garden, Lakeview Museum, Wildlife Prairie State Park, the Illinois River and WeaverRidge golf course are just a few travel destinations for visitors to the county. And residents are fortunate to have these world-class attractions right in our own backyard!
Learn more about Experience the Emergency Expo in Peoria Magazine's June issue of InterBusiness Issues.
With summer fast approaching, a sense of anticipation and excitement fill the air: vacations are being planned, pools filled, sunscreen stocked, fireworks bought. High school students have a different agenda for their summer months, however: gaining valuable work experience and saving for college may trump laying poolside and running bases this year. With the shift in priorities comes maturity, responsibility and the potential for leadership.
Learn more about Nurturing Tomorrow's Leaders in Peoria Magazine's May issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In the past year, the Peoria County Board’s Minority Business Ad-hoc Committee has made significant progress toward strengthening partnerships with minority, women and disadvantaged-owned businesses (MBEs). The MBE Committee’s mission is to create an environment that stimulates greater participation from the community with particular emphasis on new and minority-owned businesses.
Learn more about On the Road to Equity in Peoria Magazine's April issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In November 2007, the Peoria Riverfront Museum collaborative approached the County Board seeking $24 million in public funding to bridge the gap in financing for construction of the museum. At that time, the board voted to support the concept of the museum, and wheels began turning to identify ways in which to make this funding possible—the amount being such that drawing down the county coffers was not an option.
Learn more about The How, What and Why of a Sales Tax Referendum in Peoria Magazine's March issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria County Board recognizes that building a successful partnership with our citizens rests in a shared understanding of county government, our responsibilities and the services we provide. To strengthen the foundation of our citizen partnership and encourage community involvement in local government, we are offering several opportunities for citizens to learn more about Peoria County this spring.
Learn more about Strengthening Partnership through Knowledge in Peoria Magazine's February issue of InterBusiness Issues.
I am honored to have been elected unanimously by my peers to serve as chairman of the Peoria County Board. Since my appointment to the board in 1993, I have served on six of the board’s nine standing committees. I have also served on the Peoria-Pekin Urban Area Transportation Policy Committee, the Regional Pollution Control Committee and the Board of Local Improvements Committee. My public service career includes 24 years in the Public Works Department at the City of Peoria. This experience in local government complements my new leadership role as I look to further advance the board’s strategic plan over the next two years.
Learn more about An Introduction in Peoria Magazine's January issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The County Board recognizes there is no greater need for a balanced budget than during difficult economic times. Economic uncertainty, therefore, served as a primary guiding principle this fall when we developed our 2009 overall budget. The County's current fiscal condition, taxpayer burden, and spending restraint were also key considerations in developing a budget focused on financial solvency and cost-effective service delivery.
Learn more about In the Interest of Transparency in Peoria Magazine's December issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Two and a half years ago, Peoria County introduced a free prescription drug discount program through our partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo). Peoria County was one of the first counties in the nation to offer this program to help our citizens, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage, cope with the high cost of prescription drugs. The program grants discount card holders an opportunity to save money on prescription drugs that are not otherwise covered by insurance. To measure the program’s efficacy, County staff receives monthly reports from NACo enumerating the savings Peoria County cardholders have experienced—a cumulative savings that may astound you.
Learn more about Prescription Saving's Program a Success in Peoria Magazine's November issue of InterBusiness Issues.
When we think of our county health department, most of us think of children’s shots, restaurant inspections, preparing for a pandemic illness event or other tangible services provided by health departments. However, the most critical functions of our health department are very seldom seen. Local public health departments, as part of the public health system, assess community needs and strengths, plan and develop policy to meet those needs, and assure that the policy is carried out through programs, services and regulation. In 1988, the Institute of Medicine defined these as the core functions of public health.
Learn more about Healthy Communities in Peoria Magazine's October issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Peoria County is one of the top 10 digital counties in the nation, according to an annual survey released several weeks ago by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Thousands of U.S. counties were invited to participate in the 2008 Digital Counties survey. Peoria County officials responded to questions that included more than 100 measurements and data points about our online service delivery, infrastructure, architecture and governance needs.
Learn more about At your eCounty Service in Peoria Magazine's September issue of InterBusiness Issues.
As previously discussed here, Peoria County prides itself on being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ dollar. Throughout this decade, the County Board made a series of decisions that implement our strategic plan. Some were difficult—like the decision to trim our workforce in the early part of the decade. Others were easier—like the decision to create a finance department. Within our framework, “Financially Sustainable County Government” has always been the top of our five goals.
Learn more about Spending Wisely in Peoria Magazine's August issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria County Board recently revitalized its Minority Business Ad-hoc Committee by appointing a new chairperson and pledging accountability to the minority-, women- and disadvantaged-owned businesses (collectively MBEs, for purposes of this article) the committee was designed to support. The ad-hoc committee was created in 2005 to address a glaring disparity between county dollars spent on contracts with and procurements from MBEs and dollars spent with other local businesses. Joining county board members on the ad-hoc committee are representatives from the Black Chamber of Commerce, local trade unions, institutes of higher education, private business and the faith-based community.
Learn more about Enhancing Equity for MBEs in Peoria Magazine's July issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Peoria County recently received results of a citizen survey randomly administered to 3,000 households earlier this year. The survey assessed citizen opinion of quality of life, government service satisfaction and local initiatives. Peoria County intends to administer the survey annually, using these initial results as a benchmark against which to measure our progress. The results will also serve as an additional tool to help guide the County Board’s strategic plan. By focusing our efforts and resources on areas in need of improvement as identified by our citizens, we will ultimately achieve the board’s vision for our community: enhanced quality of life.
Learn more about The Results in Peoria Magazine's June issue of InterBusiness Issues.
This May, Peoria County is opening an online legal self-help center to assist the increasing number of individuals in our area who represent themselves in court without attorneys. These individuals will now be able to access legal information and court documents for many civil legal problems with the assistance of a trained navigator in the law library at the Peoria County Courthouse.
Learn more about Legal Help Now Online in Peoria Magazine's May issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Property taxes are the primary funding source for taxing bodies in Peoria County. These include public schools, libraries, park districts, airport districts, and units of local government. Property tax is the largest single tax in Illinois and, as a result, generates the most criticism. Understandably, this dissatisfaction often stems from lack of information; few property owners are knowledgeable of the property tax process. So, how are properties assessed and taxes determined?
Learn more about Processing the Tax Cycle in Peoria Magazine's April issue of InterBusiness Issues.
During the first quarter of each year, units of government tend to reflect on the previous year's accomplishments while at the same time committing to a work plan for the coming year. Peoria County is no exception and considers itself fortunate for the opportunity to keep local business owners, their employees, and our citizens informed of our progress in 2007 and our intentions for 2008.
Learn how Peoria County is Reflecting on our Future in Peoria Magazine's March issue of InterBusiness Issues.
In business you often hear the term "performance measurement" mentioned in reference to productivity and growth. The same holds true for units of government. Since the adoption of its strategic plan, Peoria County has established performance measurement standards for each department within the organization. Performance is measured regularly and each measurement tool is periodically re-evaluated to ensure it remains aligned with our strategic goals. Ultimately, of course, the goal of performance measurement is improvement.
Learn how Peoria County is Surveying Our Performance in February's issue of InterBusiness Issues magazine.
Peoria County prides itself as being Central Illinois’ best value in local government. The 2008 budget is another one that decreases the property tax rate while expanding services, including a significant financial reorganization. The County Board approved our $122.2 million budget for 2008 on November 15th. Great work was done by the county administrator, elected officials and department heads to present the board with a sound budget.
Learn how Peoria County is Improving Financial Sustainability in Peoria Magazine's December issue of InterBusiness Issues.
For most of us, the business of government has been conducted in one of two ways: we came to you or you came to us, live and in-person. While that is the time-honored tradition many still prefer, over the last five years Peoria County government has experienced an explosion of tech-savvy customers who expect their government to reflect their own digitally enhanced, colorfully rendered, on-demand lives. And while we will never take the personal touch away, Peoria County has been steadily investing in technology to help meet all consumers’ changing expectations. These investments focus on improving access to government information and services while, at the same time, making those services more user-friendly.
Find out how Peoria County is a Government Where You Are in Peoria Magazine's November issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria County Board recognizes that building a successful partnership with our citizens rests in a shared understanding of county government, our responsibilities and the services we provide. To strengthen the foundation of our citizen partnership and encourage community involvement in local government, we offer several annual opportunities for citizens to learn more about Peoria County.
Learn more about opportunities to Strengthen Partnership Through Knowledge in Peoria Magazine's October issue of InterBusiness Issues.
By taking steps to mitigate rising energy costs, Peoria County Government is seeking to join pioneers DuPage and McHenry as the only county governments in Illinois' 102 counties with a binding energy performance contract, a guaranteed savings contract that identifies, evaluates and recommends energy efficient capital improvements over a multi-year term. Reduced energy costs can amount to increased savings of 15 - 35%. For local government, this means limited budgets can be stretched further, allowing us to direct taxpayers' money where it really counts: toward the services we provide our citizens.
Learn how to Capitalize on Energy Savings in Peoria Magazine's September issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The Peoria County Board has identified lead paint abatement as a top priority agenda item for the second consecutive year in a concerted effort to reverse the harsh reality that the City of Peoria has the highest prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in the State of Illinois and one of the highest in the nation. This regrettable distinction, however, can be overcome with the combined efforts of local and federal governments, social service agencies, businesses and you, our citizens.
Learn how Leaders Mitigate Lead in Peoria Magazine's August issue of InterBusiness Issues.
As with most local governments, Peoria County recognizes growing our economy is crucial to the community's future; therefore, the County Board continually focuses its energy and resources toward this primary initiative. Typically, communities experience the greatest economic success from within: by developing its workforce; creating more high paying, quality jobs; and retaining and expanding current business. Thus, the County Board has taken an almost parental approach to economic development, a supportive approach that has helped spur growth in our innate business community.
Read how Local Business Grows the Economy in Peoria Magazine's July issue of InterBusiness Issues.
One year ago, Peoria County introduced a free prescription drug discount program offered through the National Association of Counties (NACo). The program grants discount card holders an opportunity to save money on prescription drugs that are not otherwise covered by insurance. To measure the program's efficacy, county staff receives monthly reports from NACo enumerating the savings Peoria County card holders have experienced, a cumulative savings that may astound you.
Learn about A Year of Savings on Prescriptions in Peoria Magazine's June issue of InterBusiness Issues.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently presented its esteemed Acts of Caring Award for Criminal Justice to the Peoria County Sheriff's Office at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. NACo's Acts of Caring Awards recognize the top county volunteer programs in the country. For purposes of this award, an act of caring is a community service provided by a county-sponsored volunteer program that enhances or preserves the quality of life.
Read how Peoria County Cares in Peoria Magazine's May issue of InterBusiness Issues.