Rockford, Illinois News

$120M in COVID-19 relief funds still available for Illinois communities

(THE CENTER SQUARE) — The deadline for local governments to claim federal funds for COVID-19 related expenses the Pritzker administration captured is Dec. 1. But there are other programs with millions held up by bureaucratic red tape.

The funds were part of a federal bill passed in April. The Illinois Legislature created the Local CURE program to capture the money that didn’t go directly to Chicago and the collar counties. Local governments must apply for the funds from the Pritzker administration.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said there’s more than $121 million on the table more than 400 communities haven’t claimed.

“Many, many local governments that have just not gone after the money and we’ve called them up directly in many cases to say ‘do you want to apply, can we help you apply,’ and so on,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said there’s money local governments are leaving on the table.

“There really aren’t any new programs, other than this major CUREs program which I do want to encourage all local governments to apply for,” Pritzker said.

If the money isn’t claimed by Dec. 1, the Pritzker administration said the funds would be allotted to other communities still in need.

In Chatham, just south of Springfield, the village is in line for its allotment, but Village President Dave Kimsey said another program to get direct relief for businesses impacted by the pandemic is counterintuitive.

“The Downstate Small Business Stabilization Grant program that was [federal] pass-through funds through the state that the village would administer for a business to help them survive through the pandemic,” Kimsey said. “It required public hearings in the middle of a pandemic to help them get through the application process.”

More than $7.4 million in the stabilization grants have been paid out, but that’s of $20 million available until it’s all spent.

To the governor blaming Republicans in Congress for not approving more funds, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the governor has failed at distributing money Congress approved back in April.

“The governor wants more money and he can’t even distribute the money that he has,” Davis said. “That’s an abject failure especially during a pandemic and to have him stand up there while his administration is flailing at getting dollars out that should have been in our communities months ago is really offensive.”

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