An Introduction

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

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.

Indeed, the County Board has many challenging decisions ahead. In 2009, we will decide whether to renovate Bel-Wood Nursing Home or build a new nursing home. We will also consider best uses for the former Hanna City Work Camp. And this month, we will decide whether to place a referendum on the April ballot that asks voters to increase the sales tax rate to help fund the Peoria Riverfront Museum project. Museum planners have requested that Peoria County partially fund construction of the new museum, and Governor Blagojevich recently signed a law that allows counties to increase sales tax to help finance public facilities.

Economic development is one of my top priorities, and each of the aforementioned decisions falls within the board’s strategic goal of building the economy. Revitalizing Bel-Wood and the Hanna City property will create new business, and a riverfront museum will draw visitors to the region—all of which will serve to fortify the local economy and help Peoria County endure a national recession. Under strong leadership, our economic development committee continues to seek creative ways to boost the economy by strengthening existing business and encouraging new business in the county.

Building the economy goes hand in hand with planning quality growth, another strategic plan goal and an ongoing priority of mine. Just as we take steps to protect our employees during capital improvement projects, so too have we taken steps to ensure the safety of our citizens by adopting and enforcing a building code. Quality construction is the foundation on which we will build the economy in Peoria County amidst a recession during my term as chairman.

Last month, the board welcomed new members Andrew Rand and Brad Harding. Their addition will bring innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to the board, and I look forward to the exciting years ahead as we explore ways to grow the economy and enhance our community—ways that rely strongly on partnerships with local businesses and you, our citizens. To that end, we welcome your input and will strive to address any concerns regarding Peoria County and its future. You may obtain contact information for your board representative by visiting peoriacounty.org or calling the County Board office at (309) 672-6056. iBi

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