A strategic plan as to how the Kankakee County Board will invest the $21.3 million of COVID-19 relief money as part of the American Rescue Plan Act is set to move forward.

Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler outlined the plan at the board’s Executive Committee meeting.

The plan entails several county board subcommittees for the recently-named Kankakee County Respond, Revitalize, and Reinvest Initiative (KCR3), which consist of county board members as well as local community leaders who have expertise in the subject matter, according to a news release from Wheeler’s office.

Public input is also encouraged, and the first subcommittee meeting will be held beginning at 9 a.m. on July 19 in the county boardroom. Subcommittees will continue to meet all day on Mondays every other week as needed. Each meeting will last about one hour.

The City of Kankakee, which received nearly $15 million of federal money, has been holding meetings to also outline a course for how and where the money will be spent.

Subcommittees include Public Safety-Emergency Management, Courts, Workforce, Business and other projects.

“This is a little bit new, and we may have to meet a few times to get policy down,” Wheeler said.

The $21.3 million is being disbursed over the next two fiscal years — $10.67 million for FY2021 and FY2022. It’s broken 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.

“So that it literally all can be used, as the chairman [Wheeler] said,” said Steve McCarty, county finance director, at June’s Executive Committee meeting. “I just want to reiterate, it all can be used toward a COVID purpose. ... The ARPA funds are very clear, they’re quite restrictive. And then the lost revenue, still has restrictions, but has an infrastructure and other things that the county board can decide to use it on, but all of it can still be used for our purposes.

“So just because we move it, doesn’t mean it takes it away from any COVID use, [lost revenue] just becomes more flexible, if you will, not free but more flexible than the ARPA funds. So we have two funds, we’ve already had the budget, the board has voted on both of these. If any money is left over in either of these buckets, it goes back to the [U.S.] Treasury.”

Wheeler stressed how important it was to cut a wide range of input from the public and community leaders on the subcommittees.

“There are no bad ideas or maybe things that just don’t make the cut or things that are ineligible based on the rules that we operate under,” he said.

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.

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