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Chicago-area municipalities to rely on counties for CARE Act money

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
The Daily Line
by Hannah Meisel

 

Most local governments in Illinois will not see a significant amount of money from the federal CARES Act under a bill passed by lawmakers over the weekend, leaving some municipalities in Illinois’ five largest counties worried they’ll have to fight for their share.

Under the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in March, only local governments with a population greater than 500,000 are eligible for the aid. Smaller counties and municipalities will have to count on the states to distribute money to cover expenses directly related to fighting the coronavirus.

Related: ?Local governments set to get small slice of $4.9B coronavirus relief package headed to Illinois?

Of the $4.9 billion Illinois received under the CARES Act, the state took $2.7 billion and local governments were to receive $2.2 billion. Of that, Illinois’ five largest counties — Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will and Kane — received $1.4 billion.

But before lawmakers gathered last week in Springfield, there had been a fight brewing over whether those five counties would be required to pass their funds onto their local governments, or whether those municipalities would be on their own to fight for a share that went to the state.

The budget implementation bill passed by the General Assembly over the weekend ended that debate. It stipulates that municipalities from those five counties are not, in fact, directly eligible for state CARES Act money, and will have to get their share of federal money through distributed from the counties.

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes said the administration agreed.

“I don’t believe it was the intent of the federal government to just give counties $300 or $400 million to spend,” Hynes said.

Cities worried about timing, “cash grab”

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said he knew many “Cook County mayors are worried” about the length of time it’s taking to distribute the funds.

 

Illinois Municipal League Director Brad Cole stands with Gov. JB Pritzker on Sunday.

Related: 4 days in Springfield: What passed, what stalled and next steps

One of those Cook County mayors is Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens, who also serves as a Republican state representative in the Illinois House. Stephens said he’s worried his town — which has large business and entertainment districts but a population of just 4,200 people — will not see the CARES Act funding needed

to cover the costs Rosemont has born to fight the virus.

Despite Rosemont’s small population, Stephens said the town has invested resources in fighting the virus, including buying masks for a local senior living community and hiring back some auxiliary police officers to manage the continual disinfecting of Rosemont’s public safety department.

“We’re hopeful that this isn’t just a cash grab by the counties and that the money flows through,” Stephens said.

Cook County Bureau of Finance spokesperson Edward Nelson suggested that the county’s role is only about establishing a fair vetting process.

He said because the county is “ultimately liable” for how the money is used, it has created a plan to ensure “a consistent, thorough, equitable and legal process” to distribute the CARES funds to local cities and towns.

Downstate splits mere $250M

The state’s other 97 counties and approximately 1,200 municipalities will see thin slices of a $250 million of CARES Act money meant for governments with populations less than 500,000 people.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the distribution. The other $550 million has been converted to business interruption, childcare and healthcare and grants meted out by the DCEO.

Local governments won’t see haircut in income tax sharing

In his post-legislative session statements Sunday, Gov. JB Pritzker pointed to a restoration in funding distribution to the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF), which metes out money to local governments as a share of state tax revenue.

But Cole said it’s far from what local governments need. For the last decade, LGDF funding has been pro-rated from the 10 percent of state tax revenues it had traditionally received. Last year’s LGDF rate was 5.85 percent, according to Cole. This year’s will be a little more than 6 percent.

Related: Local governments squeezed from all sides with revenue losses; Give cities their share of state income tax, local officials tell lawmakers

But even with that boost on paper, Cole said that because of the significant reductions in income tax receipts due to Covid-19, it’s likely local governments will receive even less actual funding than last year.

“If we have lower income tax collections, then our actual dollar amount will go down,” Cole said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most local governments in Illinois will not see a significant amount of money from the federal CARES Act under a bill passed by lawmakers over the weekend, leaving some municipalities in Illinois’ five largest counties worried they’ll have to fight for their share.

Under the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in March, only local governments with a population greater than 500,000 are eligible for the aid. Smaller counties and municipalities will have to count on the states to distribute money to cover expenses directly related to fighting the coronavirus.

f the $4.9 billion Illinois received under the CARES Act, the state took $2.7 billion and local governments were to receive $2.2 billion. Of that, Illinois’ five largest counties — Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will and Kane — received $1.4 billion.

But before lawmakers gathered last week in Springfield, there had been a fight brewing over whether those five counties would be required to pass their funds onto their local governments, or whether those municipalities would be on their own to fight for a share that went to the state.

The budget implementation bill passed by the General Assembly over the weekend ended that debate. It stipulates that municipalities from those five counties are not, in fact, directly eligible for state CARES Act money, and will have to get their share of federal money through distributed from the counties.

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes said the administration agreed.

“I don’t believe it was the intent of the federal government to just give counties $300 or $400 million to spend,” Hynes said.

Cities worried about timing, “cash grab”

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said he knew many “Cook County mayors are worried” about the length of time it’s taking to distribute the funds.

Illinois Municipal League Director Brad Cole stands with Gov. JB Pritzker on Sunday.

Related: 4 days in Springfield: What passed, what stalled and next steps

One of those Cook County mayors is Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens, who also serves as a Republican state representative in the Illinois House. Stephens said he’s worried his town — which has large business and entertainment districts but a population of just 4,200 people — will not see the CARES Act funding needed

to cover the costs Rosemont has born to fight the virus.

Despite Rosemont’s small population, Stephens said the town has invested resources in fighting the virus, including buying masks for a local senior living community and hiring back some auxiliary police officers to manage the continual disinfecting of Rosemont’s public safety department.

“We’re hopeful that this isn’t just a cash grab by the counties and that the money flows through,” Stephens said.

Cook County Bureau of Finance spokesperson Edward Nelson suggested that the county’s role is only about establishing a fair vetting process.

He said because the county is “ultimately liable” for how the money is used, it has created a plan to ensure “a consistent, thorough, equitable and legal process” to distribute the CARES funds to local cities and towns.

Downstate splits mere $250M

The state’s other 97 counties and approximately 1,200 municipalities will see thin slices of a $250 million of CARES Act money meant for governments with populations less than 500,000 people.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the distribution. The other $550 million has been converted to business interruption, childcare and healthcare and grants meted out by the DCEO.

Local governments won’t see haircut in income tax sharing

In his post-legislative session statements Sunday, Gov. JB Pritzker pointed to a restoration in funding distribution to the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF), which metes out money to local governments as a share of state tax revenue.

But Cole said it’s far from what local governments need. For the last decade, LGDF funding has been pro-rated from the 10 percent of state tax revenues it had traditionally received. Last year’s LGDF rate was 5.85 percent, according to Cole. This year’s will be a little more than 6 percent.

Related: Local governments squeezed from all sides with revenue losses; Give cities their share of state income tax, local officials tell lawmakers

But even with that boost on paper, Cole said that because of the significant reductions in income tax receipts due to Covid-19, it’s likely local governments will receive even less actual funding than last year.

“If we have lower income tax collections, then our actual dollar amount will go down,” Cole said.

Hannah Meisel

Hannah Meisel is The Daily Line's Springfield reporter. She came to TDL after a short stint with Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog. Previous stops before that include Law360, Illinois Public Media/WILL and NPR Illinois/WUIS. Meisel holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.



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