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County begins process for distribution of relief aid

thetimesweekly.com | 3/31/2021, noon
The Will County Board Executive Committee began discussions about how to allocate $133 million directed to the County through the ...

The Will County Board Executive Committee began discussions about how to allocate $133 million directed to the County through the American Rescue Plan recently passed by Congress. The $1.9 trillion federal legislation directed $360 billion dollars toward state, county, tribal, and local governments for relief from the hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There is no question that we have gone through the hardest year that any of us have experienced," said Will County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan. "The American Rescue Plan presents us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide assistance now to our residents, and we intend to maximize these dollars by targeting efforts that will leverage other resources and create opportunities for growth into the future."

The special Executive Committee meeting was called in order to expedite the allocation of the funds and get them to the businesses, organizations, and individuals that need them most.

Committee members, other County Board members, elected officials, and department heads were invited to share their top priorities for where relief aid could be directed. Among the suggestions that were shared most frequently by meeting participants was to direct funds to small businesses, especially restaurants and bars, to increase access to broadband internet service, to address housing and food insecurity, to provide hazard pay for certain county employees, to strengthen mental health services, and to support transportation services.

"The parameters for how these funds can be used are fairly wide," said County Board Minority Leader Mike Fricilone. "We want to have the biggest impact immediately but we also want to address some of the issues we are facing with long term solutions. That is where careful planning will come into play."

The Executive Committee will continue to seek input as they craft a plan for distributing relief funds. The entire County Board plans to vote on priorities for funding at their April meeting. Anyone from the public wishing to submit suggestions on how these funds could be allocated can send them via email to CountyBoard@willcountyillnois.com or to Will County Board – 302 N. Chicago Street, Joliet, IL 60432.