Peru clerk eyes township trustee seat
Following a single term as Peru Township clerk, Steve Weberski hopes to make the transition from township clerk to township trustee in the 2017 spring local elections.
“I decided to run for a trustee because I want to be more involved in policymaking for the township and the clerk does not have a vote in policy issues with the township,” Weberski told the Illinois Valley Times. “So I want to be more involved in policymaking and be able to have a vote.”
The township board is comprised of four trustees and a supervisor. So far this election, Peru has a full slate of candidates from both parties.
Weberski hopes voters will give him the opportunity to address some key issues in Peru.
“The major issue right now in Peru Township has to do with an attempt by the city of Peru to take over the duties and the responsibilities of the township, and therefore, in effect, dissolve Peru Township,” he said. “So that’s probably the main issue surrounding government issues in Peru right now.”
At the state level, there has been an effort to reduce the number of government units. Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of government -- far greater than any other state nationwide.
Weberski said some municipalities are taking the initiative to try to assume the responsibilities of township governments, therefore eliminating some township governments, but that there is a difference of opinion in Peru Township on whether or not this would be a cost-saving move for the taxpayers.
“It hasn’t been made clear,” Weberski said. “My feeling is that Peru Township has undergone a lot of reform within the past four years with the current group of trustees. There have been some significant salary reductions and benefit reductions of the elected officials and employees of Peru Township, and it has become a much more responsible and efficient unit of government.”
Weberski said his personal opinion is that the city, in its efforts to consolidate Peru Township, “is just late to the party” because the Peru Township board has done an excellent job of scaling down and saving taxpayers’ money.
“I’m not against consolidating units of government,” he said. “I think each and every case is unique in how it is governed by its public officials. So I don’t think you can make a blanket statement that township government is inefficient in Illinois and that we need to dissolve township government. I think each and every unit of government has its own role to play and if a township government is being run efficiently then I think it deserves to remain in effect.”
For instance, Weberski said, the Peru board just recently reduced its tax levy 13 percent from the previous year’s tax levy, and cut salaries an average of 47 percent across the board for elected officials. Salaries for elected officials are set only once during a term because state law doesn’t allow for salaries to be adjusted for elected officials until the final year of an existing term, Weberski explained.
“Elected officials are not allowed to increase or decrease salaries while in office,” he said. “They set salaries for the proceeding term.”
Weberski has been involved in local politics in the Peru area for a number of years dealing with municipal politics, township politics and county politics.
“I’ve run for city office before unsuccessfully,” he said. “That was eight years ago. I then went and got involved in township government and was successful.”
Weberski has been a resident of Peru for 25 years, according to the township website. He is employed as Plant Operations Manager at the Exxon Mobil Superfund Site in DePue.