Information provided by Sandy Prescott, Whiteside County Economic Development Office
The Whiteside County Board voted on Tuesday to approve the distribution of $2,001,658.56 from its recently established Grant Program, funded by ARPA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery (SLFRF) Grant, to 59 disproportionately affected entities who have suffered economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six businesses in the AroundPtown area received funds. Three were bars/restaurants, Cragel’s, Deer Valley Country Club, and the Happy Spot. Two were private businesses, Prophet Gear and Jim’s Arrow shop. A third was the Lyndon Historical Society seeking reimbursement of funds for a cancelled fundraiser.
One entity that did not receive funds was the Prophetstown Fire Protection District’s Ambulance Service, which was seeking reimbursement for added expenses incurred during the pandemic. In the release the county stated that “other municipalities/taxing bodies were not eligible,” which would eliminate the Service from the process.
Ambulance Administrator, Julie Pope expressed her displeasure with the denial of the service’s application saying she and district trustees was never told that taxing bodies were not eligible and were in fact encouraged to apply.
Whiteside County Administrator, Joel Horn, said “the board had repeatedly made it clear that they were not going to include municipalities and taxing districts in the process. The auditors determined that the service received a tax Levy.” He added “There may have been some confusion and I apologize if that’s the case but it was clear from the beginning that taxing bodies would not be eligible.”
County board member Bud Thompson of Prophetstown said all applications were vetted by an auditing firm. “They were totally impartial and simply said if they (the applicants) were eligible.” Thompson did add that there was some confusion determining the eligibility of fire districts.
The County’s Finance Committee developed a method to determine the amount of the awards for each applicant and that the best course of action was to vote on the list of applicants as a whole and not individually. The vote to approve the list was unanimous with three abstentions, according to Horn.
“117 applications were submitted and 59 were deemed eligible. The County will award eligible applicants 100% of their request with maximum award of $53,250,” according to the release.
The County received a total of $10.7 million in recovery funds with the county board allocating $2 million of that amount to the small business grant program. $3 million was set aside for broadband expansion in the County with the remaining $5 million for County projects divided among various departments.
Thompson said the county has also created an accountability processes to ensure that the funds are used appropriately.
In a press release, it was stated, “In order to be eligible for the Grant, entities had to meet the U.S. Treasury’s guidelines for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as well as guidelines outlined in the application. Applications were reviewed by an independent auditing firm, and mainly had to show:
- The entity was located in Whiteside County (e.g. office, storefront) or directly benefit Whiteside County residents.
- The entity employed fewer than 500 employees
- The entity demonstrated significant Covid-19 expenses or disruptions
- The entity has been in operation in Whiteside County since at least February 15, 2020 or earlier.
- Independent contractors must not have received unemployment since March 1, 2020 to be eligible.
- The entity is in good standing and not in default with the IRS, State of Illinois and/or Whiteside County
- Must not currently be in bankruptcy.”
James Duffy, Whiteside County Board Chair was quoted saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic created numerous disruptions and hardships for many individuals, businesses and organizations in Whiteside County. These grants are meant to assist the applicant with pandemic related disruptions and loses not previously addressed by other relief programs from Federal and State sources. The ARPA funds we received are a great opportunity for the County to address other areas as well. A portion of our ARPA funds will be used to bring fiber broadband to the unserved and under-served areas of Whiteside County, and for other infrastructure projects. We have made a lot of progress in our pandemic recovery, and hopefully these allocations will have a significant impact on the quality of life here.”