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Peoria County board unanimously approves split property tax payments

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(PEORIA COUNTY) WEEK - A unanimous vote to split payments by Peoria County board members means Peoria homeowners will have a form of property tax relief.

The decision effectively cuts the first installment in half.

The intent from Peoria County Treasurer Nicole Bjerke, is to give residents a break, especially as more and more people are feeling the financial strain of layoffs and furloughs because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Bjerke explained she was faced with three options; delay property tax payments, waive penalties or split the payments.

She only had the authority to offer the last option and she took it. "That provides some relief to the taxpayers because they can take longer to pay." she said.

Tax bills will still go out around May 1st, but the split payment option lets residents slash their payment in half.

In the agenda, the plan reads "divide the 1st installment into 2 separate equal payments under which 50% of the installment shall not become delinquent until 60 days after the first installment due date."

During the Peoria County Board's virtual meeting Thursday, members explained the first payment is due June 9th. For those choosing to pay half, the remainder of the payment is due August 10th.

The final, regular property tax payment is due September 9th. Those who make the payments after those dates will incur a late fee, but it will still be reduced.

As Bjerke explained how she was working with her taxing districts, banks, and fellow colleagues to smooth the kinks of additional paperwork, electronic transactions and everything else that comes with adjusting this system, she also acknowledged the recipients of the tax money will be impacted.

There are roughly 150 taxing districts which include things like schools, airports, roads, fire personnel, etc. Those districts all depend on tax dollars.

"A lot of our first responders are housed in that taxing district and if the district can't pay them, then what happens to those first responders?" Bjerke highlighted.

Or she explained, if property taxes aren't distributed and those districts have to take out loans, the tax payer might have to absorb some of the financial burden.

Under the split payment plan, Bjerke says both the tax payer and the districts are taken care of and will still receive all of their money by September.

Lauren Melendez

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