EAST PEORIA — Nearly a year after stalling on a decision to sell the current City Hall and build a new one in the new downtown district, the City Council addressed the topic anew Tuesday night and again failed to find a consensus of where, or even whether, to move.
City commissioners Dan Decker and Tim Jeffers seemed ready to move forward with construction of a new downtown city hall, saying it would more than pay for itself using money from the sale of the current City Hall and the sales and property taxes from the new businesses that would rise in its place.
Commissioner Chad Joos said committing future tax revenues was a "risky move."
"I think we should slow down and take a breath and see what (revenues) are coming in," Joos said during the working session of the council before the regular council meeting. "I'm content to stay right here right now."
Commissioner Gary Densberger sided with Joos. "I'm not prepared to spend money to build a new city hall. I believe we should do as Commissioner Joos said and take a breath," he said. "We bought nothing for our department heads this year. It's time to let our revenues be real money and spend that on basic services."
The topic resurfaced at this time because developer Jeff Graves of JPG Real Estate, who offered to buy the current City Hall and the one acre it occupies for $445,000 last year, continues to have an interest in the property. He wants to buy the property as soon as possible to put the proposed development in better position to compete with the new downtown for incoming quality retail outlets.
"He wants to redevelop sooner rather than later," City Administrator Tom Brimberry told the council.
Selling the building now, however, would leave the city without a hall. So, the council heard proposals to move temporarily to the Festival Building on East Washington Street or even to the old Fondulac Library that is being vacated for a new library in the new downtown. The new library is designed to share space with what is ultimately to be the new city hall. The idea of building a new city hall at this time, at a cost of $1.1 million, lost traction with the council.
"We'll have to talk about this again," said Mayor Dave Mingus at the end of the discussion.