Vernon Hills may use American Rescue Act funds to offset some of $8 million revenue loss

Vernon Hills' share of American Rescue Plan Act funds will be $3.6 million, but how it will be used is to be determined.

The funding is part of the $1.9 trillion federal COVID-19 relief act signed into law in March.

A portion of those funds will go to communities with a population under 50,000. Illinois received $742 million for that purpose and will administer the program through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The funds will come in two equal installments this year and next.

Village Manager Kevin Timony said guidelines regarding the use of the funds are being finalized. Once clarified, the village board will determine how to spend the money.

"Our hunch is in the next 30 to 60 days a lot of towns are going to start asking the same question, so we'll have more clarity on how we can use those funds," Timony said.

According to the village, the funds can be used in four general categories: support for COVID-19 response; replacing lost revenues; stabilizing local economies by providing assistance to households or businesses; and addressing systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the "unequal impact" of the pandemic.

Timony said the village has identified about $8 million in lost revenue based on calculations provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

"At this point, we believe that if we so choose down the road, we could apply for the full funding for lost revenue," he added.

Meanwhile, the Vernon Hills Park District has requested $1.6 million from the village to offset its lost revenue and rehire staff to reopen and operate at full capacity.

"Our significant revenue facilities and programs were shut down for an extended time," said Executive Director Jeff Fougerousse.

"We have five full-time employees who are still laid off."

He hopes park board representatives can meet with the village to discuss the request.

Park districts are considered "special purpose" districts and do not receive direct Rescue Act allocations. However, state and/or local governments can transfer funds to them, Timony said.

Earlier this year, 21 park districts led by Waukegan and Zion successfully lobbied Lake County for $1.6 million federal CARES Act relief funding, which was split by districts by population.

Lake County will receive $136 million in American Rescue Act funding. Designations have not been determined, but in preliminary review, funds for local entities is among five proposed focus areas.

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  Vernon Hills will be getting $3.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds. Specific uses, including addressing $8 million in revenue losses, are to be determined. Paul Valade/
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