GENEVA – The Kane County Board approved nearly $2.9 million in Grand Victoria Riverboat funding for internal projects Tuesday.
But not before board members questioned why there was no funding for the Drug Court or the community outreach coordinator position.
Board member Chris Kious, D-Algonquin, questioned why there was $314,000 in riverboat grants for the specialty drug court last year but nothing for the 2021 allocation. Kious also questioned why there was nothing funded for the community outreach coordinator, when the previous year’s allocation was for $50,000.
“Does it cut that program?” Kious asked, referring to the drug court.
“I don’t know what the consequences of the recommendation the committee will be with respect to that program,” said Board member John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, who is chairman of the Riverboat Grants Committee.
“Presumably, if funding does not come from the riverboat, it could come from another source within the State’s Attorney’s Office or the judiciary,” Hoscheit said. “The resolution before us is the result of the committee trying to keep that fund alive. This year, the riverboat revenue is down significantly. … This is an allocation of resources based on a reduction in revenue.”
Kane County Court Administrator Doug Naughton said the state of Illinois Administrative Office of Illinois Courts was providing full funding for the drug court, so there was no need to apply for river boat money.
Hoscheit also said after the meeting that the riverboat revenue, $4.2 million, which was received in April, is from 2019.
“The issue was that boat was closed several months this year, now open with limited occupancy. We know funds that are going to come in next year from this year – 2020 – are significantly less,” Hoscheit said.
“So what we had to do is set aside funds … to cover next year. Otherwise we would have had a major drop off. This is smoothing out the decline by doing that,” Hoscheit said.
With the riverboat closed for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and then allowed to reopen in a limited way, the projection for 2020 riverboat revenue would be about $2.8 million, Hoscheit said.
No funds for an outreach coordinator
The issue of funding the outreach coordinator position with $50,000 from riverboat funds was discussed and not given priority, Hoscheit said.
The funding for outreach coordinator and the emailed newsletter comes from two sources, Hoscheit said. Another $72,000 comes from the county’s general fund budget.
“We have not gotten to that point yet,” Hoscheit said of the general fund budget for that position.
Kious advocated for finding funding support for Kane County Connects and the outreach coordinator.
“When I canvass, the most common comment I get is, ‘What does the county board do?’ which is hard to answer sometimes,” Kious said. “We don’t have a message sometimes that reaches out to everybody. I think that this is a valuable tool to reach our constituency.”
Kious suggested amending the proposed allocations to take $50,000 to fund the community outreach coordinator position from allocations to farmland preservation. Farmland preservation received $418,669 from the previous year’s allocation and an additional $300,000 for 2021, records show.
Board member Angela Thomas, D-Aurora, said she would support Kious's effort.
“Residents will rely on and expect even more information,” Thomas said. “It’s been my experience when interacting with constituents (that) they seek more information and this is not the time to eliminate that. … I am a great proponent of the community outreach coordinator and Kane County Connects.”
The position is currently held by Rick Nagel, who emails Kane County Connects to residents detailing county news.
But other board members objected, pointing out that money for farmland preservation is matched with federal funds and transactions are already committed.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said there could be a less expensive alternative to $20,000 on a newsletter to be sent out once or twice a week using a database already installed for that purpose.
The amendment failed by a vote of 14-9 and then the board approved the recommendations for river boat funding as presented.
Internal grant awards
The annual allocation of riverboat revenue comes through the county’s agreement with the Grand Victoria in Elgin. The The Kane County Riverboat Grant Committee divides the money between external applicants – such as nonprofits and local governments – and internal applicants within the county itself, officials said.
The internal awards were a combination of funding amounts approved in previous fiscal years and current amounts, both awarded for fiscal year 2021, according to the agenda.
The internal projects funded previously include $50,000 for tuition reimbursement for Human Resources; $109,335 for the domestic violence program,$50,079 for victim coordinator services and $35,413 for the Child Advocacy Center, through the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office; $418,669 for farmland preservation; and $24,550 for recycling.
Current amounts awarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office are: $69,877 for Title IV-D, child support enforcement, $110,313 for drug prosecution, $74,207 for victim coordinator services, $148,530 for domestic violence and $593,452 for the Child Advocacy Center.
The Health Department is to receive $142,097 for Kane Kares, a program for support during pregnancy; $289,583 for web technical services in the IT Department; $80,374 for economic development; $169,534 for cost share drainage in the Water Resources Division; $60,979 for storm water management; $300,000 for farmland preservation; and $71,323 for environmental management in the recycling program.
External grant awards
In June, the board had approved $774,209 for external projects.
The largest award, $94,000, went to the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley for the First Street Plaza extension in St. Charles.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, received $91,000 for operating expenses associated with training and supervising new volunteers.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Elgin received $70,833 for construction of a new club house, while the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dundee Township received $63,500 for renovation to create tutoring space and a games room.
The city of St. Charles received $70,000 for phase one of the Seventh Avenue Creek Project, involving stream restoration and modification to alleviate flooding, culvert replacements and to create public park space.
The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension received $57,500 for operating expenses associated with educational programs.
SciTech Museum received $39,548 for ecosystems interactive exhibits of fish tanks and animal habitats; the Northern Illinois Food Bank received $22,168 for three refrigerated trailers, three pallet jacks and a youth truck; Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club received $21,875 for reforestation of a portion of Fitchie Creek; the Geneva History Museum received $20,542 for a redesign of its archives and collections storage.
The Greater Elgin Family Care Center received $18,500 to replace a digital dental panoramic x-ray machine; and Friends of the Fox River received $18,479 for updates to the Schweitzer Center facility.
Also, the village of Maple Park received $17,500 for conduction of a risk and resilience assessment and preparation of an emergency response plan; Hesed House received $17,014 for driveway and parking lot asphalt replacement; Serenity House Counseling Services received $16,750 for operating expenses for the Kane County jail’s substance abuse education and assessment; River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles received $15,000 for the Langnum Corridor Enhancements, which includes plantings, furnishings and concrete pads for future sculptures.
Also, Association for Individual Development received $13,333 for architectural expenses, supplies and partial salary for a program manager; Ecker Center for Mental Health received $13,023 for staff training and materials; YWCA Elgin received $13,000 for operating expenses for a Family Literacy Program; Community Crisis Center received $12,558 for technology upgrade, including speakers, computers, printers and monitors; Mutual Ground received $12,074 for flooring replacement; Fox Valley Hands of Hope received $11,602 for a software database purchase and installation.
Also, Making Kane Fit for Kids received $11,500 for vertical aeroponic growing systems and stationary exercise bikes; Literacy Volunteers of the Fox Valley received $11,336 for one-on-one English tutoring for adults; Batavia Television received $10,933 for video switcher replacement, new monitors, keyboard/mouse and extended warranty; the Sugar Grove Historical Society received $6,009 for archive digitation for the internet; and do-over.me received $4,632 for Flight School, an initiative to assist high school graduates in finding employment.