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Kane County plans to improve existing facilities

Kane County plans to improve existing facilities

Instead of using $18 million in federal pandemic relief funds to finance a new public health building, Kane County is looking to use those funds primarily to improve and maintain current facilities.

Federal funds were provided to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act, commonly known as ARPA. Kane County must return all funds it has not committed to a specific project to the federal government by the end of this year, which is why the Kane County ARPA committee is rushing to get the eligible projects.

In total, Kane County still has $19 million in ARPA funds to allocate. The majority of that money, $18 million, was previously considered to help fund the controversial public health building project that the Kane County Board rejected in late March.

At an April 24 meeting, ARPA committee members recommended spending nearly $15 million on 12 projects, including renovating the heating, ventilation and cooling system at the county’s two jail towers, including the cost is estimated at more than $7 million, and replacing the chillers in the county justice center is estimated to cost $2 million.

The 12 projects were also adopted by the Kane County Executive Committee by a single unanimous vote without any discussion at its meeting Thursday. Now, these projects will go before the full Kane County Council for final approval.

The remaining federal funds awarded to the county through ARPA, about $4 million, are expected to be allocated to projects at the ARPA committee’s May meeting, according to a presentation given by Jarett Sanchez, committee chair and Kane County District 24 Board of Trustees. Mr. Congressman, at the April 24 committee meeting.

The goal, he said, is to have all of the county’s ARPA funds allocated to projects by the APRA committee in May, and for all of those projects to be approved by the Kane County Council in June.

Sánchez said he doesn’t like being rushed to approve projects, but discussions around the new public health building project have taken longer than expected.

“We are really in a critical period,” he said at the April 24 meeting of the ARPA committee.

If the projects are approved by the Kane County Council, there are still a number of steps that must be taken before the funds are legally considered “committed” by the federal government, and all of them must be completed by the end of the month. year to prevent the federal government from recovering the funds, according to Sanchez.

He said many of the projects approved by the APRA committee in April were considered “backups” if the public health building project was not approved, so they went through months of planning and are not not simply discarded as a final project. seaside resort.

ARPA has strict requirements for the projects and programs that funds are authorized to support, and Sanchez said the proposed projects are all authorized under current federal guidelines.

Kane County was already planning to complete numerous projects as part of its five-year capital improvement plan, according to Roger Fahnestock, executive director of IT and Building Management for Kane County.

He said county staff initially planned to fund these projects through the county general fund, but since ARPA funds are available, it makes more sense to use those federal funds and save local dollars.

Two of those projects are the $7 million HVAC system replacement project at the county’s two jail towers and a $1.44 million HVAC system replacement project at the sheriff’s office, Fahnestock said.

The Kane County Board of Commissioners voted in late February to begin those projects by hiring an engineering firm to redesign the HVAC system at the jail and sheriff’s office.

Similar projects considered for ARPA money include replacing the HVAC system in other law enforcement buildings, like the shooting range, improving hot water for the jail and the replacing the HVAC system at the Kane County Health Department building in Aurora.

However, one project that was allocated ARPA funds at the April meeting did not involve facility improvements. The ARPA committee allocated more than $850,000 to the county’s proposed Food and Agricultural Resilience Project, which could provide grants of between $10,000 and $25,000 to local farmers.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in the western part of Kane County to be leaders in local food, so this type of project and spending really helps us move in that direction,” Sanchez said.

According to the meeting agenda, the proposed project would provide grants to Kane County farms to help cover the cost of operating expenses, freeing up funds to make it easier for farmers to make long-term investments term in agricultural infrastructure and business growth.

The proposed project would address the unmet needs of farmers negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and make farms more resilient to future supply chain disruptions, the agenda states.

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