Peoria landowners now have a new fee to pay to the city. It's called the Public Safety Pension Fee. It can range anywhere from $10 to $200. The city says it was the only way to meet state funding requirements for police and fire pensions -- but landowners says they are frustrated it came to this.
"We're not making a priority to balance our budget and stay within our means, we are going back to property owners," said Andres Diaz, a Peoria property owner.
Diaz not only owns his home, he also has several rental properties in his name he will now have to pay more for. He says he is alright with paying first-responders what they were promised but says the city is asking too much of its residents.
"There's a lot of property owners who own their properties or are on fixed income or low income and so another fee when they struggle to pay their property tax…they're at the end," added Diaz.
But Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich says they have prioritized the pension deficit and says they are simply following state law.
"This is a state level issue where the state has decided what the benefits are for the police and firefighters, we just have to decide how much to levy in taxes," said Urich.
Urich says right now, Peoria's police and fire pensions are 50 percent funded -- they need to be 90 percent by 2040. But Urich says that deadline is too soon.
"And that cost is going to go up considerably between now and 2040 and so that's one of the issues we have, we're going to have to continue to cut expenses and continue to look at how to cover these costs over the long run," he added.
Diaz says to avoid even more fees there should be cuts. Urich says they have tried, citing 100 fewer city positions than there were 15 years ago.
Diaz also noted some landlords may have to raise rent to compensate for the fee, a trickledown effect renters could see.