When city leaders pushed for higher property fees to shore up pension funding, REALTORS® fought for and got a big compromise

It was an example of advocacy in action when the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® (PAAR) fought against a property-based fee increase to fund the city of Peoria’s public safety pensions and won a compromise that saved property owners money.

Last October, when the city began discussions on closing a $2.2 million budget deficit, many revenue-generating ideas were proposed. The idea with the most interest from city leaders was a parcel fee. The city called it a fee, but in reality it was a property tax.

As originally proposed, the ordinance would have imposed a $50 fee for any lot with a building with fewer than 5,000 square feet of space. Owners of property with buildings above that threshold would have paid $300. Those fees would have been allowed to increase annually to keep pace with the city’s pension ballooning obligations.

In 2019, the first year of the fee, it was projected to generate approximately $2.2 million. The money would be applied to public safety pension funding to close the budget gap the Peoria City Council was struggling to resolve.

The parcel fee became known as the Public Safety Pension Fee and, as with most proposals, its definition was modified multiple times before a final draft was submitted to the city council in mid-November.

Peoria REALTORS® took careful aim at the final proposal. 

Working with Illinois REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®, we launched a member and consumer Call for Action in Peoria to oppose the new property fee and to protect Peoria residents from another property-based fee increase.

We created a multi-layered information campaign, sending emails and text messages to REALTOR® members, targeted emails to consumers and a direct mail piece to voters within the city of Peoria. We created social media ads in conjunction with the Illinois REALTORS’ Real Property Alliance consumer outreach foundation.

REALTOR® and consumer opposition put pressure on city council members and secured key provisions that improved the ordinance:

  • A sunset clause was introduced, meaning the ordinance would have to be reconsidered by the council in three years.
  • A lower fee structure was passed. Most property owners would be paying about half of the originally proposed fee.

The Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® is glad for the compromise and the campaign raised important awareness. Our members saw the REALTORS® advocacy system at work, consumers took action on an important issue and our elected officials reacted.