Kankakee County Board offices

Kankakee County Board

The Kankakee County Board is still working through its process of prioritizing areas of government and public programs that might receive a portion of its $21.3 million in federal money allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The board’s committee of the whole met Monday afternoon in the county administration building to continue with that process as part of what it has named KCR3 — Kankakee County Respond, Revitalize, Reinvest. The process was approved by the committee.

“One of the department heads indicated to me that we need to take care of home first, prioritizing the administration’s requests,” board member Steven Hunter said.

Hunter added some departments have dire needs.

Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said one department’s dire is another department’s wish.

“That will be [the board’s] decision when we do it as a group,” he said.

Some requests have already been approved by the county board, including new voting machines for county elections and new squad cars for the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department. Those requests went through the subcommittees, the finance committee and the full county board. That process will continue.

“There’s a COVID reason for what we have to do as far as getting bids on certain things,” Wheeler said. “What type of documentation we need from each one, and I’ve done that all the way through the business request that we’ve got in and for the not-for-profits. My goal is to have that at the next finance committee meeting on Wednesday which is going to be excessively long.

“We’ll call these people in that we can, maybe if there was 20, then we may get 10 people. We’ll start going through them.”

Wheeler reiterated that all the requests will go through the finance committee and then the full board for approval. The monthly finance committee meeting will now serve as the next phase in the process as one committee meeting, instead of the previous six sub-committee meetings that had met the past several Mondays.

“Nobody is left out of the process,” he said.

PROGRAM PARTNER

The Board is also looking for a management program design partner that will help the county go through all the requests for the various social programs that can be funded. Part of that process calls for the board to continue to identify projects and issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Wheeler said the county doesn’t have the personnel in the finance department to handle the amount of work required to address all the requests for funds. The county has been informed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that the partner has to be fiscally responsible, accountable and transparent.

“We want to find the right partner and then see what that relationship looks like,” Wheeler said. “I’d say by the next finance committee meeting [in September], we should have that all written. I’m trying to find what other people are doing out there as far as the RFQs [Request for Qualifications] to try not to reinvent the whole wheel. We’re different in some areas, so we want to make sure that we choose the right partner who has done this before, is an expert in their field, can write grants, and help determine the metrics to define success.”

The $21.3 million is being disbursed over the next two fiscal years — $10.67 million for FY2021 and FY2022. It’s divided into two buckets for each year as well with $4.19 million for ARPA and $6.48 million for lost revenue.

Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at cbreach@daily-journal.com.