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Local News

Mayor wants a bigger share of CARES Act money for Joliet

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk
Mayor Bob O'Dekirk

The city’s deficit projection, described in tsunami terms at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is down to a more manageable $5 million to $10 million.

And, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk would like to see it eliminated completely with a bigger chunk of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

O’Dekirk plans to make a case to Will County for more than the $5.7 million now allotted to Joliet from the $120 million CARES Act funding that the county controls.

Joliet’s present share, O’Dekirk said at a City Council meeting Tuesday, is “about 4% of the funds, and the city of makes up about 23% to 24% of the population of Will County,”

“Not to criticize the county,” he said, “but those numbers don’t add up as far as I’m concerned.”

O’Dekirk plans to pen a letter to county officials and go to a County Board meeting to make a case for Joliet getting more CARES Act money.

The funds also are going to businesses, nonprofits, schools and other taxing bodies.

The city’s projected deficit of $5 million to $10 million is down from a previous prediction of $12 million to $20 million.

The city began making budget adjustments after its finance director described the coming impact of lost tax revenue as a “tsunami” because of the business slowdown expected with the pandemic.

The final numbers are still uncertain because of the unknowns that come with such fluctuations as the mandated closing of indoor dining and bar service that was ordered in Will County for a third time this past week.

But the $5.7 million already authorized by the county, steady gas tax revenue, and new local money from the recreational cannabis tax has helped, said Councilman Michael Turk, chairman of the Finance Committee.

“Hopefully, we’re still going to end the year with $40 million in reserves,” Turk said, adding that 2021 conditions are uncertain. “How long this is going to go into the new year, it’s hard to tell.”

The city in April began to cut back on spending and instituted a hiring freeze, although it has begun to authorize limited hiring in recent weeks.

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