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Local News

Pandemic might not hit Will County's finances as much as first expected

Latest projection puts revenue loss around $2.6 million

The Will County Board can be seen Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.
The Will County Board can be seen Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.

The economic fallout brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic might not have as big of an impact on Will County government finances as originally thought.

Karen Hennessy, the county's finance director, spoke to the Will County Board Finance Committee during a virtual meeting on Tuesday about her latest revenue projection. Through the first seven months of the fiscal year, which began in December, Hennessy said the county saw an overall decrease of about $875,000 to its main revenue sources.

The actual money the county receives each month is reflective of what was generated three months prior. So Will County's July revenue total reflects what was generated in April, according to Hennessy.

In total, Hennessy told the committee that if she extrapolated the losses to the end of the fiscal year, Will County would see an estimated $2.6 million loss of revenue compared to what it took in last year. That estimate is well under the projection Hennessy gave the committee back in May when she said the county could see losses of revenue between $9 million and $26 million in 2020.

Still, she cautioned that it was difficult to predict an exact number and she was "very conservative" with the numbers she used to calculate the estimates.

"We don't really have a lot to base this on," she said.

Hennessy sounded hopeful that future revenue reports might reflect better numbers because of the increased economic activity during the summer as restrictions were lifted with lower COVID-19 cases.

She added that federal aid the county got from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act should offset some additional costs directly related to the pandemic.

Marijuana tax revenue

Hennessy also updated the committee on how much money Will County received from the state tax on recreational marijuana sales since January.

Through the first five months of sales, Will County took in about $31,000. Hennessy said at that rate, Will County could take in between $60,000 and $70,000 by the end of the year.

The revenue from the state distribution of marijuana taxes can only be used to fund crime prevention programs, training and interdiction efforts.

The Will County Board also passed its own tax on recreational marijuana sales, which went into effect in June. Hennessy said she likely won't be able to begin reporting how much revenue is generated from that tax to the committee until October.

The board has yet to determine how it would spend the money generated from its own recreational marijuana tax.

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