DuPage to set aside $43 million to help towns during COVID-19 crisis
DuPage municipalities, which are facing rising costs due to COVID-19, will receive a share of the federal money the county received to respond to the pandemic.
County board members on Tuesday agreed to set aside up to $43 million to reimburse cities and villages for COVID-19-related expenses. An additional amount of up to $6 million will be used to reimburse townships, fire protection districts and park districts.
The county received roughly $161 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for necessary or unanticipated expenses incurred due to the public health emergency. Eligible expenditures must be made between March 1 and Dec. 30.
So far, the county has used $7 million of the CARES Act money to start a program that provides forgivable loans to small businesses devastated by the crisis. Another $20.5 million will be used for capital projects related to COVID-19.
Earlier this month, municipalities asked the county for assistance because they didn't get CARES Act money though the state.
"We are disappointed that the state chose to exclude municipalities in counties that received direct federal allocations of CARES Act funding from direct state funding," Steve Chirico, president of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, wrote in a June 8 letter.
Chirico, who is the mayor of Naperville, said the state allocated CARES Act funding to other municipalities based on a formula estimated at $51.84 per resident. The conference asked DuPage to use a similar approach.
"DMMC requests approximately $43 million to address current and future COVID-19 related costs for local municipalities," he wrote.
Chirico said municipalities are willing to take responsibility for complying with CARES Act requirements through an intergovernmental agreement with the county. As part of the pact, towns would agree to repay the federal government for any expenses that are later deemed ineligible for reimbursement.
The DuPage County Board's finance committee agreed to set aside the $43 million during a special meeting.
"The mayors and managers made a fairly compelling case that they wanted to be treated essentially the same way municipalities were treated throughout the rest of the state," board member Robert Larsen said after the meeting.
The Wheaton Republican and finance committee chairman said DuPage towns were treated differently by the state.
County officials, meanwhile, acknowledge the towns have incurred a number of COVID-19-related expenses, including sanitation of village halls and emergency vehicles, increased costs of police and fire response, and the continued need to buy personal protective equipment.
Before being reimbursed through the county, a municipality will be required to provide documentation of its expenses.
"We're very happy to submit proof of payments and work on a reimbursement basis," said David Fieldman, the village manager of Downers Grove.
Meanwhile, DuPage is going to set aside $2 million to reimburse townships, $3 million to reimburse fire protection districts and $1 million to reimburse park districts.