Making their way through an agenda and supporting materials as thick as a metropolitan phone book the East Peoria City Council voted last week to move forward with, among other things, a multi-million dollar incentive package and zoned sales tax hikes to move the new downtown development effort forward.


Making their way through an agenda and supporting materials as thick as a metropolitan phone book the East Peoria City Council voted last week to move forward with, among other things, a multi-million dollar incentive package and zoned sales tax hikes to move the new downtown development effort forward.

Commissioner Chad Joos, raising objections, voted against several of the ordinances offered.

The council voted on several ordinances to get the development under way. Along the way there was a good deal of back and forth between commissioners on the issues before them.

Ordinance 4022 created a development and redevelopment plan for the Target Area Business District.

Commissioner Gary Densberger, said prior to the vote on this ordinance that it was a package deal.

“I don’t believe without this development our downtown would take place in a number of years.”

Densberger admitted that he was not entirely comfortable with the proposal, but it needed to move forward.

“This will generate additional revenue that will add to the quality of life,” Densberger said.

Commissioner Daniel Decker added without this ordinance the development deal would die.

“The most important part of this is to reduce risk to the citizens,” Decker said. “This helps protect them.”

Decker said the deal was not perfect, but was the best they could come up with.

Commissioner Tim Jeffers said what had been vacant land with this deal could produce 100-plus good paying jobs.   

“This is an area, I hope, will be a magnet for future generations,” Jeffers said. “In years to come we will see real dollars.”

Joos was not convinced. “Although a business district sounds great ... it’s my view the only practical application is to raise sales taxes.”

It passed 4-1, with Joos voting no.

Ordinance 4023 created an occupation tax of 1 percent for the Target Area Business District.

Joos started off the discussion of this ordinance. “This is the summit of flaws,” he said. “I’m all for economic development. I’m not for economic development that raises taxes.”

Joos said it has been argued that without large incentives the development would not have come to fruition. That, he said, can be argued. But, Joos added, he would have liked to see the city be less aggressive.

“This is too complex and there are too many incentives,” Joos said. “It makes me feel we are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

Joos added he would have aggressively pursued Costco and waited for the other businesses to follow.

“We’re creating a justification for future leaders to increase sales taxes,” Joos said.

The ordinance passed 4-1, with Joos voting no.

Ordinance 4024 created a development and redevelopment plan for the Costco Area Business District.

It passed 4-1, with Joos voting no.

Ordinance 4025 created an occupation tax of .5 percent for the Costco Area Business District.

Decker said a yes vote on this ordinance was imperative so the project could move forward.

“One of the driving forces for Costco to locate here was Target ... I’m excited about Target. I’m not excited about incentives,” Decker said.

“But, the people of East Peoria are excited. This development is just awesome. This just isn’t happening in other parts of the country.”

Joos responded saying he felt the business districts had been gerrymandered.

“I don’t think Costco would have come with a 1 percent sales tax increase,” Joos said.

He said these “gerrymandered” districts had sales tax rates all over the place. He said Target would have a 9 percent sales tax; Costco an 8.5 percent sales tax and Town Centre II an 8 percent sales tax.

It passed 4-1, with Joos voting no.

Ordinance 4032 authorized the issuance of $25 million in bonds. Before the vote on the issuance of the $25 million on bonds Mayor Dave Mingus, who had been silent through the debate up to that point, spoke.

“I’m excited,” Mingus said.

He said the city has been waiting 15 years for development to come. He said the city has been waiting for public or private development.

“I don’t speculate about what could happen. I go with fact,” Mingus said.

“There is risk, but sometimes fear is the greatest thing to overcome,” Mingus said.

It passed unanimously.

But, in the end, Joos voted with the rest of the council to approve the issuance of $25 million in general obligation bonds to finance the effort.