Speaker Mimi Cowan noted the progress made at Thursday’s Executive Committee meeting, “We look forward to approving applications and supporting key initiatives around Will County. We are dedicated to delivering American Rescue Plan Act funds to those organizations and communities that need it most.”
Park Districts, Municipalities, Special Recreation Associations
Throughout the pandemic, Park Districts proved to be an integral community partner as a hub for meal distribution, recreation and outdoor community space. Due to low enrollment, facility closures and class cancellations, Park Districts, Municipal Parks and Special Recreation Associations experienced a loss in revenue while continuing to support residents.
The Executive Committee discussed funding for Park Districts and Libraries at the July 7, 2022, meeting and the Board allocated on a per capita basis to park districts with a minimum allocation amount of $25K to each entity.
“Most of the conversation regarding fund allocation was held at committee meetings,” said Speaker Mimi Cowan. “With the per capita distribution model, the funding is distributed based on population and need across the County. We also wanted to ensure that smaller communities received a meaningful allocation to address critical needs.”
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds were approved for Park Districts, Municipal Parks Departments and Special Recreation Associations. Each organization was allocated a specific funding amount, eligible for ARPA purchases, programs or projects. The next step will be for these organizations to formally submit applications that will be reviewed and then funds can be distributed.
“Libraries were invited to attend an informational meeting this past week. We want to make sure everyone’s questions are answered. We must remember, if it is serving the Will County residents, it’s good opportunity,” said Minority Leader, Mike Fricilone.
Libraries provided significant support throughout the pandemic by offering a safe learning environment with free access to WI-FI. About $1.375M of ARPA funding has been allocated towards libraries, with each eligible library guaranteed a minimum of $20K. Fund allocation for each district was evaluated using the total daytime population.
Public Safety funds, of which municipal fire, law enforcement, 911-dispatch and EMA stakeholders are eligible to apply, will be the first competitive ARPA grant. For each application, Board Members will first consider the potential impact and then make an informed decision. A total of $2.75M is available for distribution.
Majority Leader, Meta Mueller said, “I will be looking closely at the applications in order to understand how the applicants are going to better serve the entire community.”
During the pandemic, the Will County Health Department stopped charging for a portion of services, forfeiting expected revenue. At the Executive Committee on July 14, 2022, the Board allocated more than $7.8M in ARPA funding for the Will County Health Department to support administrative, information technology, human resources, behavioral health and family health initiatives.
The Board has set aside $30M in total for the health pillar and established a list of criteria to consider when reviewing application eligibility. Allocating funds towards behavioral health, violence prevention and food stabilization, as well as improving health services and access remain a priority.
The County Board will continue to refine health related agenda items in August, in addition to beginning a formal discussion of economic development and workforce training opportunities. Next, the Board will shift focus and work on building a stronger foundation to support sustained growth in workforce, job creation and overall infrastructure.