Cook County officials are urging suburban municipalities to apply for $51 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds by a Sept. 30 deadline.
“This has been a very challenging time, not just for county government but for local units of government as well,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Tuesday morning at a press conference in Oak Lawn.
Cook County government received approximately $429 million in CARES Act funding from the U.S. Treasury, and of that funding, $51 million was set aside to be allocated to municipalities within Cook County, according to Preckwinkle.
Per the CARES Act, funds can only be used for direct COVID-19 expenses — not for any revenue losses.
“Now we need to hear from our suburban local governments and elected officials,” Preckwinkle said, encouraging officials to apply online. “Please fill out the paperwork quickly to avoid leaving vital money on the table that can go to costs, such as personal protective equipment, payroll costs for first responders and operational initiatives to facilitate return-to-work arrangements for suburban municipalities.”
Allocations to municipalities are determined through an “equitable lens,” prioritizing communities hardest hit by the pandemic and weighing factors that include the immediate needs of a municipality to respond to the pandemic, municipal population, municipal median income and municipal public health statistics, according to officials.
All applications must be filed by Sept. 30. “If a municipality has not provided an application or a plan to use the remaining allocation, the county must then rescind the remaining allocation so that it can go to other important pandemic needs,” Preckwinkle said. “So this is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.”
On Tuesday, Preckwinkle announced $680,000 had been distributed to Oak Lawn for its efforts in responding to and recovering from COVID-19.
“Oak Lawn got hit with a double whammy — we’re no different than your household. We have lost revenue and increased expenses,” said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury. “This revenue is so desperately needed.”
Of the $680,000 Oak Lawn received, 40% was used for initial expenses incurred to respond to the virus, including overtime pay for first responders and public work personnel “to survive that first wave,” according to Bury.
“Communities really need to take advantage of this. We don’t know what’s coming next. This CARES Act funding helps us be ready for what is next and that is critical,” said Bury.
For more information about the funding and to apply online, visit Cook County’s website.