Celebrate a Healthy County

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

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.

Next month, county officials will present three free public workshops through Illinois Central College's Adult Community Programs. On April 5th, Peoria County Treasurer Edward O'Connor III will help property owners better understand their property tax bills by explaining how they are calculated using tax rates and levies, and how money is distributed to each taxing body. He will also dispel the myth that because Peoria County collects the taxes, we must therefore keep the tax money. Peoria County retains less than 11 percent of the property taxes we collect.

Then, on April 19th, the Peoria City/County Health Department's emergency preparedness coordinator will help people prepare to survive a tornado or other catastrophic disaster by providing the basics for developing a family emergency plan and how to build an emergency kit. A family's ability to successfully weather a severe storm or any type of large disaster is directly correlated to their preparedness. Having an emergency plan and kit in place before disaster strikes will help ensure one's safety after a disaster hits.

Lastly, on April 26th, residents can learn about Assist 2012, a program that provides financial assistance to qualifying homebuyers. Persons planning to buy a home in Peoria County this year are encouraged to spend an hour learning how they can get three percent cash back on their loan to fund closing and/or down payment costs and up to $2,000 annually in federal income tax credits. This workshop is taught by the County's Planning and Zoning staff.

All of the aforementioned free workshops are presented at ICC's North Campus from 6 to 7pm. Those interested in registering for one or more of them can do so at icc.edu/acp—select "Know Your Community" in the workshop schedule.

Peoria County is also participating in two community projects during NCGM. County Board members, armed with reflective vests and trash bags, will conduct a clean-up of our adopted highway, a mile-long stretch of Mossville Road in Medina Township. Then, this April marks the second year Peoria County has sponsored a home through Peoria's "Rebuilding Together" program. County employees will join board members the last weekend in April to complete much-needed improvement projects for a low-income homeowner in Richwoods Township.

National County Government Month's theme, "Healthy Counties, Healthy Families," coincides with the County Board's strategic goal of providing a safe and healthy community for those who live, work and play in Peoria County. We hope you will join us in celebrating the health of our community by participating in NCGM events next month. To learn more about Peoria County and NCGM activities, visit peoriacounty.org. iBi

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