Kankakee County Board offices

Kankakee County Board

The Kankakee County Board is looking for community members to serve on the subcommittees it has formed to discuss how to invest its $21.3 million of COVID-19 relief funding as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The subcommittees are comprised of county board members and some local public officials, but the board is still seeking citizens who have expertise in certain areas or are key stakeholders. The subcommittees include public safety-emergency management, courts, workforce, business, infrastructure, and other projects.

The subcommittees are part of Kankakee County’s Respond, Revitalize and Reinvest (KCR3) initiative. The subcommittees begin meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, and the one-hour meetings will continue throughout the day on every other Monday as needed.

“It is our responsibility to maximize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler in a news release. “These subcommittee meetings are central to the mission of community input, subject-matter expert input, and future efficiencies in the operations of county government. There are those that need pandemic-related help now, and our taxpayers need help long term. We endeavor to address both needs via this transparent process.”

Those interested can access an application online at k3county.net/AACK3Board.pdf and submit it to administration@k3county.net. Citizens can also give their input at the meetings even if not on the subcommittees.

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.

The federal government has strict guidelines on how the money can be spent, as the areas for the rescue funds must have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board member Steven Hunter praised Wheeler at Tuesday’s board meeting on how he has gone about formulating the process.

“In terms of holding meetings with the under-served and amenable to recommendations and comments, the chairman has explained thoroughly and each point in terms of what is transpiring regarding the guidelines, and providing documentation to those communities and those stakeholders,” Hunter said. “I just want to say we should feel positive about how open the process has been, and that the county administration has been open to suggestions, comments, additions, amendments, that might be germane to the whole process.”

Wheeler said at Tuesday’s meeting it’s important on how the money should be spent so it can have a long-term impact.

“There has to be a structural policy, or has to be a ranking,” he said. “And we have to get input from everybody that’s out there. So it’s just to start — a marathon, not a sprint. ... There are some people still hurting from the pandemic. We have to address some things up-front, and those will get flushed out, hopefully in the first month of meetings.”

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.