PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says it's important for neighboring cities to work together on economic development, education and other issues.
Ardis gave his annual state of the city address Tuesday afternoon at the Peoria Civic Center.
In his address, Ardis dispelled the notion that cities like Peoria and East Peoria compete with one another. He says local mayors often collaborate on projects like the effort to expand high speed rail into the Peoria area.
Ardis praised mayors of surrounding cities and encouraged them to "raise the bar" to ensure future economic and business growth. The mayor also addressed one's of the biggest challenges facing Peoria and other cities, the public education system. He praised District 150 Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan and her team for implementing changes within the schools but said the district has a perception problem.
"The reality is they have some challenges; it's an urban school district. There's a high poverty level and frankly they have a lot of difficulty that they are facing. And I think they are doing a good job facing them," he said.
Ardis also praised City Manager Patrick Urich for helping to keep the city's finances on track. Last fall, the Peoria city council approved a fiscal budget with a projected surplus for the first time in several years.
"This is great to be at a state of the city and not have to talk about laying people off, not have to talk about restructuring but actually talking about implementing the plans that we been dreaming about for so many years," said Peoria City Council Member Clyde Gulley.
The Mayor urged Peoria residents to track the city's progress by using GreaterPeoriaScorecard.com to see how the city measures up to other communities.