As chairman of the Peoria County Board, I am responsible for leading a $127.5-million organization with just over 900 employees, providing public services in 27 different departments. Certainly, I cannot do this alone; I rely on my colleagues on the County Board and many others to help ensure Peoria County is a financially sound, high-performing public organization that provides core county services in a cost-effective manner. For Peoria County to be a regional leader, we must employ quality leaders, from an elected board and county-wide elected officials to an appointed county administrator and management staff.
Peoria County boasts over a dozen previous 40 Leaders Under Forty, and I am immensely proud that this year's class includes County Administrator Lori Curtis Luther. Lori has been with the County just over a year, and in that short time, has made significant achievements, including the presentation of two balanced budgets at a time when demand for services is up and revenues are down.
Faced with a $1.7-million deficit at the onset of the FY2013 budget cycle, Lori demonstrated leadership by encouraging elected officials and department supervisors to hold vacancies open as long as feasible, reduce commodities and contractuals as much as possible, and otherwise incorporate a two-percent decrease in departmental budget requests. As a result, next year's adopted budget is a remarkable 5.3-percent reduction over the current year. I encourage you to learn more about Lori's leadership qualities, professional accomplishments and personal interests later in this issue.
We appreciate Central Illinois Business Publishers and iBi for providing a venue to recognize the young leaders in our community, and I appreciate the opportunity to expound on that recognition in this column. Peoria County government is a complex organization that includes a governing board, elected offices, appointed offices, and quasi-independent boards and commissions. For an entity as complex as ours to successfully fuse and operate as efficiently as it does requires strong leadership for each function of government. No one person can do it alone.
Therefore, in addition to Lori and Peoria County's past 40 Leaders Under Forty recipients, I commend the leaders within our organization who have surpassed 40 years, as well as those likely yet to be recognized. Years ago, the County Board adopted a set of core values we uphold within our employees: Service, Productivity, Integrity, Responsibility, Initiative and Teamwork. These SPIRIT values are evident in Peoria County's leaders, who set the example for our entire workforce and the community we serve. I credit our strong leadership as the reason Peoria County may be the region's best value in local government. iBi