Kane County sending $27.5 million in federal relief to communities
Kane County is ready to release $27.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to local municipalities, but that total represents less than half the assistance those communities sought.
County board members approved the distribution of the funds Tuesday, upon receipt of proof of the pandemic-related expenses by the cities and villages. Nearly half the assistance will go to Aurora and Elgin, the two largest population hubs in the county. Big Rock, Lily Lake, Kaneville and Virgil were the only communities not to submit assistance requests.
The 24 communities that applied asked for nearly $81 million in COVID-19 reimbursements. That would have eaten up the vast majority of the $93 million the county received following passage of the federal CARES Act.
Instead, the county board agreed to set aside about $27.8 million for municipalities and distribute the funds on a per capita basis using 2019 U.S. Census estimates.
That made Aurora eligible for a $7.68 million slice of the assistance money. City officials asked the county for $15.9 million, with funding for police and fire department employee salaries and benefits representing $15 million of the request.
Elgin is eligible to receive up to $5 million in assistance. The city submitted an application for $20.5 million. That represented salaries and benefits for police, fire and emergency 911 employees "as deemed substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency."
St. Charles is another community that asked for much more -- $10.5 million -- than what it can receive, $1.9 million.
On the flip side is Burlington, one of only three communities that submitted applications asking for less than it is eligible to receive. Burlington is eligible for more than $36,000, but asked for $15,517 to cover the expense of a laptop for Village President Bob Walsh to work from home, a computer server and a copy machine.
Barrington Hills and Wayne also asked for less money than they were eligible to receive. Both communities asked for money to reimburse purchases of sanitizer and face coverings.
Geneva, South Elgin and Sleepy Hollow are the only three communities who asked for the exact amount of money their communities were eligible for. All combined, they are set to receive about $3 million in assistance.
County board member Matt Hanson served on the committee that made most of the decisions about how to allocate the CARES Act money. He said Kane County municipalities made out better than local governments in neighboring counties. Most counties are distributing the money at less than $52 per capita, he said, while Kane County communities are receiving closer to $59 per capita.
"You're getting a much better deal," Hanson said. "What we approved is taking away some of the burdens from our municipalities."
The communities won't receive the cash just yet. County officials, wary of a possible federal audit on how the funds were spent, are distributing the money on a reimbursement basis, meaning municipalities will have to prove the money was already spent in the way they represented on their applications to get the federal dollars.
Depending on how quickly the municipalities can show that proof, county board officials estimated it could be another two to three weeks before they get a check. The county must spend all the money before the end of the year or return the unspent balance to the U.S. Treasury Department.