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Will County to hire consultant to assist with COVID relief fund distribution plan

By Rex Robinson | 6/15/2020, 10:27 p.m.
As the Will County Board moves closer to distributing more than $120.5 million in relief funds provided by the federal ...

As the Will County Board moves closer to distributing more than $120.5 million in relief funds provided by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board plans to hire a consultant to assist in the distribution process.

The board is expected to vote Thursday to authorize interim County Executive Denise Winfrey to negotiate and executive a contract with the Bronner Group of Chicago. The consultant was the Ad-Hoc CARES Funding Committee's first choice after evaluating presentations from multiple firms, county officials said.

“We are working as quickly as possible to get these vital funds to local taxing bodies, farmers, business owners and others who desperately need relief after the economic pain that occurred due to COVID- 19,” said Will County Board member Ken Harris (D-Bolingbrook).

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by congress provided a lump sum of revenue to the Will County Board. The board must now determine who is eligible for the funds and how to best accept applications and deliver those funds. Last month, County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey appointed an ad-hoc committee that will oversee the distribution of the funds.

Harris, chairman of the CARES Funding Committee, said that they are examining the rules for how the money must be allocated. “We need to get this money out into the community as soon as possible,” Harris said.“Part of that challenge is navigating the requirements of where and how the funds can be used.”

Harris said a substantial portion of the funds will be directed to local taxing bodies which provide vital services to residents and have been impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses and farmers will also receive a large portion of the funding followed by housing and food relief, not-for-profits and other miscellaneous categories.

The board is expected to appropriate the funds at their June county board meeting. They will also select a vendor to help navigate requirements and expedite the flow of funds to the community.

“The committee and the board are working diligently to get these funds out,” said Minority Leader and Vice Chair of the ad-hoc committee Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen). “The people need this relief.”