Will County Board members began discussing how to dole out about $120 million in federal aid meant to help local governments, businesses and agencies deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Will County ad hoc CARES Funding Committee met virtually on Tuesday and set out a rough framework for where the money should go.
The CARES Act provided about $150 billion to states and certain local governments to cover costs directly tied to responding to the pandemic. Federal guidelines dictate that such costs can include covering medical or public health needs, or supporting struggling businesses.
Committee member and Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, suggested a list of general categories of aid recipients and rough percentages of how the money would be allocated.
The other committee members voted to approve his list, which would direct about 55% of the money to go to government bodies within the county, 20% to businesses, 10% to shelter and food-related expenses, 5% to nonprofits to cover non-shelter and food-related expenses, and about 4% for miscellaneous expenses. The rest of the money would be used to hire a consulting firm to help the county distribute the money legally and efficiently.
“We want to solve as many expense issues as possible,” Fricilone said.
The committee also agreed to undergo an expedited process for hiring a consulting firm. Chairman Ken Harris, D-Bolingbrook, said the committee is aiming to compile a short list and interview potential firms remotely by the end of next week.
The members said they hope a consulting firm with expertise in federal aid can help the county stay within the legal boundaries of the CARES Act.
Fricilone also said the county board could utilize its relationships with local agencies to get money out even quicker. He and other members pointed to the United Way of Will County as a good partner to help identify food and shelter needs the money could be used for.
Harris said the committee will also have to figure out how to solicit formal requests from potential recipients, so the county can better understand exactly what the need is locally over the next few weeks.
“We want to start spending this money as soon as possible,” Harris said.
Fricilone added the county could make adjustments to his plan as requests come in. He said some recipients might need the money for both past and future expenses like purchasing protective equipment for workers as the state begins to reopen later this month.
The committee will meet again June 3.