Kane County forest district wants federal funds to bail out Cougars losses
The Kane County Forest Preserve District wants at least a six-figure cut of the county's federal American Rescue Plan funds to help make up for more than a year, and counting, of lost income from the Kane County Cougars baseball team.
The Cougars make regular, contractual payments to the district as part of the team's use of Northwestern Medicine Field near Geneva. Numbers shared by district officials Tuesday show the team has not made a payment since before March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck with full force. Through March of this year, the Cougars are $550,000 behind in payments owed to the district.
Likewise, Centrum East-West Arena Venture LLC, which is the organization that operates the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, missed six payments to the district starting in May 2020 that amount to nearly $214,000 in missing income for the forest district.
Until Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, district officials thought that might be money it would never see. But the federal plan is the first set of federal COVID-19 support funds that allows local governments to use the money to replace lost income caused by the pandemic.
However, none of the $1.9 trillion in the plan is dedicated to forest preserve districts. To get that money, the district will have to have to ask Kane County to share some of the $103 million it received under the plan.
Commissioners who sit on the forest district's finance committee agreed Tuesday to ask for at least $764,000 to cover the losses from the Cougars and the ice arena.
While the ice arena is back up and running and generating payments to the forest district, the Cougars have still not made any of their contractual payments. District commissioners expressed a desire to meet with the Cougars and try to estimate how much longer the team won't be able to make payments and add that to the request to the county for American Rescue Plan funds.
There's a good chance the forest preserve district will get whatever money it requests -- Kane County Board members make those decisions, and those members also serve as county forest preserve district commissioners.