Speaking Out for Engagement

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

In 2011, after years of joint purchasing and various cooperative ventures, the City of Peoria and Peoria County formalized their combined efforts to identify, investigate and implement collaborative initiatives with the establishment of the Metro Peoria Committee. Comprised of three city council and three county board members, Metro Peoria joins the two largest units of local government in Peoria County in an equal partnership to provide more efficient services for the community at a lower cost.

In addition to achieving better service delivery, however, Metro Peoria also seeks to change government culture to allow for more sharing, greater transparency and enhanced citizen involvement. As a result, the committee is launching a speakers bureau to further engage the public and keep citizens informed of its initiatives. The establishment of a speakers bureau grants committee members a greater opportunity to discuss their initiatives, be more responsive and open the lines of communication with the citizens of the City and County of Peoria.

The committee hopes to expand its public presence by speaking to local service clubs, neighborhood associations, community-based organizations or other groups interested in learning more about local government collaboration and service delivery efficiencies. However, its outreach efforts are not limited to group gatherings or association meetings. The committee always welcomes and encourages public attendance at their regular meetings, held the second Wednesday of each month at 2:30pm in the conference room of the Peoria County Courthouse.

Understandably, it may be difficult for citizens to attend a public meeting during the work week; therefore, Metro Peoria is offering a free workshop through Illinois Central College's Adult Community Programs. Families or individuals interested in learning more about the committee's efforts are encouraged to attend "City and County Collaboration" at ICC's North Campus on the evening of April 4th. Interested persons can register by calling (309) 690-6900 or visiting icc.edu/acp and selecting "Know Your Community.”

In addition to public speaking engagements and presentations, the Metro Peoria Committee keeps citizens informed of its initiatives and successes through its website, metropeoriagov.com, where visitors can contact the committee to schedule a speaker, share ideas or offer suggestions. Requests for speaking engagements can also be made by contacting Jenny Fulton, director of strategic communications for Peoria County, at jfulton@peoriacounty.org or (309) 672-6918.

In its short history, Metro Peoria has made significant strides toward enhancing intergovernmental cooperation between the City and County of Peoria for the betterment of our community. Yet greater success awaits, to be achieved when more citizens become engaged in local governments' efforts for collaborative service delivery. iBi

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