EAST PEORIA — The East Peoria City Council is having second thoughts on letting voters decide in November whether the city should change its form of government.
A special meeting will be held Friday for the council to consider rescinding a decision it made two weeks ago. On Aug. 7, the council voted to give voters a choice on the November ballot between retaining the city's commission form of government or abandoning it for the default aldermanic form of government. The aldermanic form of government, likely six aldermen and a mayor elected at large, would replace the commission form if voters voted "no" on the referendum question to retain the current form of government that has served the city for 100 years.
The council voted 3-2 to approve placing the referendum on the ballot at its Aug. 7 meeting. Commissioner Dan Decker voted to have the referendum placed on the ballot, not because he supports the change in government, but because he supports the right of the voters to choose, evidenced by a petition with more than 200 signatures. He said Wednesday that he does not intend to change his vote.
"I don't see how I could," Decker said. "Not after what I have already said about letting the voters decide."
Mayor Dave Mingus and Commissioner Tim Jeffers voted with Decker in the 3-2 majority to place the referendum on the ballot. Mingus, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday night, called for the special meeting and has reportedly changed his mind on the referendum question.
City attorney Dennis Triggs said the uncertainty of what would happen if voters rejected the commission form of government makes a vote on the referendum risky and the results potentially murky and confusing.
"There is a lack of certainty," said Triggs, who has researched the historical record for answers. "This makes some of the elected officials uneasy."
The city has not yet submitted the referendum question to Tazewell County authorities for inclusion on the November ballot. Unless the council rescinds its earlier action on Friday, the city clerk must, and will, certify the referendum question no later than Aug. 30, Triggs said.
The special meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the City Council meeting room at City Hall, 401 W. Washington St.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.