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Local News

Will County area officials believe promised state money will come through

JOLIET – Local government officials appear to be taking in stride Gov. Bruce Rauner’s executive order putting a hold on state contracts and grants.

The Joliet Park District was among recent recipients of state grants for park improvements when former Gov. Pat Quinn announced $750,000 for a land acquisition project.

The money will be used for an 80-acre acquisition in the middle of Pilcher Park.

Park District Executive Director Dominic Egizio said he is confident the money will eventually come through.

“I’m sure he [Rauner] is going to tie up everything for a little while,” Egizio said, adding that it would be difficult to even check immediately on the status of the grant, which comes through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “I’m not even sure whose in charge of IDNR right now. I’m sure in another month or so it will all come out in the wash.”

The executive order was characterized by the Rauner administration as a sign that the new governor is making the troubled condition of state finances a priority.

One project that draws a lot of local attention already has been put on hold.

A Rauner spokesman Tuesday said a section of the order putting all highway construction projects under review does mean the Illiana Expressway, a plan highly favored by Quinn, is on hold.

At Joliet Junior College, officials Tuesday began making calls to the state to see if $10 million dollars promised by Quinn in October still would be coming for interior work on the new downtown campus building.

JJC spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said Wednesday that JJC officials are confident after reading the executive order that the money is secure because it was awarded before Nov. 1, although they have not heard back from state officials.

“This is to be expected,” said state Sen. Patrick McGuire, D-Joliet. “We have a new governor.”

McGuire said he has not heard an outcry of concern from local government officials or leaders of agencies dependent on state monies regarding the executive order.

At the city of Joliet, City Manager Jim Hock said he did not know if any pending grant money would be delayed. He may hear from department heads in coming weeks as they review their budgets.

But Hock said he is confident that the biggest project using state money – the new multimodal transportation center being built downtown – will not be delayed by the order.

“Something like the multimodal has been committed to expenditure for years,” Hock said. “And, we’re in the middle of a project, so there should be no problem at all.”

Attempts to the governor’s office for comment were unsuccessful.

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