Kankakee County Board offices

Kankakee County Board

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County Board unanimously gave the final approval for 12 requests of funding totaling more than $570,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars at its full board meeting Tuesday morning.

Small businesses, local government departments, a park district and several nonprofits were included in the requests.

Robert Ellington-Snipes, who represents District 18, abstained from voting on funding for Garden of Prayer Youth Center because he sits on its board of directors.

The largest request was for funds not to exceed $156,854 to repair and replace a sewer lift station on Main Street in Hopkins Park.

It includes pumps, rails, an electric panel and associated components as well as a lift station bypass. The pump has been inoperable for more than a month.

To allow spending on the project, the board unanimously authorized the board chairman or designee to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Pembroke Township, within Hopkins Park, for wastewater system repair.

“This document has to exist to remove all liability from the county because it’s not our project; we’re paying for it,” said board chairman Andy Wheeler before the vote on the motion.

“We don’t want to carry that liability forward for 20 years and have something break and then they say, you fixed it, you gotta pay for it.”

Wheeler added that if more funds or modifications were needed for the repairs, they would have to be proposed to and approved by the finance committee and then the board.

Sam Payton, a board member who is also the Pembroke Township supervisor, expressed his support of the funding plan and intergovernmental agreement at the Oct. 21 finance committee meeting.

The board also unanimously approved an amendment that changed the wording of a resolution on American Rescue Plan fund requirements to distinguish that nonprofits which serve people outside of their municipality can get up to $10,000 from the county in ARPA funds.

“Our current policy says if you’re within a municipality, then you’re eligible for $5,000 from the county,” Wheeler said. “This would say that if you’re countywide and you can document that, by maybe ZIP codes of those you serve, we’re being very flexible on the method, then we’ll be able to do the full $10,000.”

The rule change only applies to nonprofits that serve people throughout the county.

Carol Webber, who represents District 11, questioned how the wording had been changed to give nonprofits more leeway.

“I don’t see how this is an amendment. Where is the amended part?” she asked.

It was explained that the resolution originally said “businesses” and “nonprofits” located in a municipality needed to get a 50 percent funding match in their municipality, maxing them out at $5,000, but “nonprofits” was removed from the section.

Steven Hunter, who represents District 17, asked if and how the board would be able to grant a countywide nonprofit more than $10,000 if they needed it.

“We would have to go back through that process, through executive committee and establish or amend that current policy that we’ve adopted,” Wheeler said. “We also can reauthorize another round of [ARPA funding] down the road.“

Budget passes

Also unanimously approved was the county’s combined annual budget for the fiscal 2021-2022 year.

Finance Department director Steve McCarty offered some highlights of the budget, which is available on the county government’s website. He said the{span id=”docs-internal-guid-a71e24fa-7fff-65ab-64a7-f67a50be54f8”}{span} general fund’s total balance is $32.6 million, the debt service and special revenue funds are $31.3 million, highway funds are $30.3 million and the health department and 911 funds make $9.6 million. {/span}{/span}

“T{span id=”docs-internal-guid-a3c31b28-7fff-9b79-d341-f82b3dd29a72”}{span}he total budget is $104,032,176,” McCarty said. “{/span}{/span}It’s about $12 million higher than our original FY21, primarily due to budgeting for the ARPA funds, and the FY22 general fund expense budget is 1.4 million less than the FY21 budget that we’re currently finishing up.”

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Meredith Melland earned a BA in journalism from DePaul University, where she worked as a web developer and editor for 14 East, DePaul's online student magazine. She has interned for Chicago magazine and WGN. Her email is mmelland@daily-journal.com.