Cowan to continue as Speaker
“We have made great progress this past year, but we have major challenges facing our county as we simultaneously grapple with a worldwide pandemic, severe stress on our resources, and a struggling economy,” said Speaker Cowan. “I am humbled to accept this position as Will County Board Speaker and I am committed to working on behalf of all of the residents of our county while at the same time maintaining fiscally responsible county government operations.”
“I look forward to working with the Speaker to serve the needs of our constituents in the coming year,” said Fricilone. “There is no shortage of work to be done during these trying times and we will work together to do what is best for Will County taxpayers.”
In the past year, the County Board worked diligently to support the response to the Coronavirus pandemic which has caused higher unemployment rates in Will County and has also contributed to revenue loss in both the public and private sectors. New Majority Leader Meta Mueller (D-Aurora) noted it has been a balancing act to fund critical services in the face of reduced tax receipts. Federal funds have helped offset the pain that COVID -19 has wrought on businesses, local taxing bodies, non-profits, and residents in the county.
“Will County received more than $120.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds this year,” said Mueller “We’ve worked hard to quickly distribute those relief funds throughout the county but we know that our work is not done yet.”
The County Board created a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) committee in 2020 to oversee the distribution of the $120.5 million in relief funds. Over $66 million were directed to local taxing bodies that provide vital services to residents and have been impacted by COVID-19. The initial allocation of funds directed $24.1 million to small businesses and farms, $12 million to individuals needing support for shelter, food, and utilities, $6 million for non-profits, and $12 million for other needs like public safety. The County Board will continue to prioritize the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
Also on the Board’s agenda in the New Year will be continuing work on critical infrastructure improvements, and additional progress of a master plan for managing and optimizing logistics and truck traffic through the County.
“These are challenging times,” said Speaker Cowan. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”