DuPage to dole out up to $43 million to help towns during COVID-19 crisis

 
 
Updated 7/16/2020 4:28 PM

Financial help has arrived for DuPage County municipalities facing rising costs due to COVID-19.

County board members this week voted to officially allocate $43 million in federal relief funds to reimburse cities and villages for expenses related to the pandemic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

DuPage 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.

Last month, municipalities asked DuPage for assistance because they didn't get CARES Act money though the state. So the county board has established the Local Government Municipal COVID-19 Reimbursement Program.

"We were entrusted with a lot of money from the federal government to try to do as much good as possible," board member Robert Larsen said Thursday. "I think we went about it in the best possible way."

The Wheaton Republican and finance committee chairman said the board worked with the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference to develop an agreement that allows the $43 million to be distributed quickly and in a way that complies with the CARES Act.

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"We thought it was important to work with the folks that have direct relationships with the citizens in their towns," Larsen said.

Towns can seek reimbursement for a variety of COVID-19-related expenses, including sanitation of public buildings and emergency vehicles, increased costs of police and fire response, technology costs related to working from home and social distancing requirements, and the continued need to buy personal protective equipment.

DuPage this week approved intergovernmental agreements with 35 municipalities. The towns also will need to approve the agreements to receive funds.

Before being reimbursed through the county, a municipality will be required to provide documentation of its expenses. The submitted expenses will be reviewed by the county auditor's office and a third-party auditor, officials said.

The amount of CARES Act money each municipality can receive is based on a formula estimated at $51.84 per resident.

"DuPage County is one of the first counties to come up with a plan for distribution at an agreed upon amount," Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said. "I think the intended use of the money was to trickle down to help these communities. So we're grateful that they (DuPage board members) are aggressively going at that and getting it done."

Chirico said Naperville needs the more than $5 million the city is set to receive through the county.

"It's not going to close our gap, which is probably triple that," Chirico said Thursday. "But it's a big help."

Meanwhile, DuPage is planning to set aside $2 million to reimburse townships, $3 million to reimburse fire protection districts and $1 million to reimburse park districts.

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