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Schaumburg allocates $4.9 million in federal COVID-19 relief

by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald

Schaumburg officials Tuesday agreed on an allocation of the first half of the nearly $10 million the village is expected to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act, though they consider the way the federal funding was divided among municipalities to be deeply flawed.

"I think it's a well-intentioned but unfair distribution of funds," Schaumburg Mayor Tom Dailly said of the plan to assist with COVID-19 impacts.

The distribution was made according to the formula of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program, which focuses on a community's lower-income population and the age of its housing stock rather than overall population or economic strength.

Dailly compared Schaumburg to Oak Park, which is receiving $39 million from the plan despite having a higher median income and a smaller population.

"It's not based on need," Dailly said.

The $4.9 million Schaumburg will receive during the 2021-22 budget year can be spent without restriction on municipal programs as it qualifies under the lost-revenue category, officials said.

The largest share -- $2 million -- will allow the village to go back up to what it originally hoped to spend this year on residential street maintenance.

The next-highest share -- $1.25 million -- will go to the renovation of the Gather lounge and bar and the former Sam & Harry's restaurant at the village-owned Renaissance Hotel adjacent to the Schaumburg Convention Center.

"We view that as one of our major tourist attractions," Village Manager Brian Townsend said of the property.

The restaurant space is expected to reopen at the end of October as the rebranded Schaumburg Public House.

The village plans to spend $500,000 of the federal funding on rehabilitating a well on Wise Road as a backup water source, and $501,172 on the deferred payment of last year's payroll taxes.

Trustees agreed to allocate $120,000 to Schaumburg's Community Assistance Fund that helps financially struggling residents in a variety of ways, and another $120,000 will go to the Neighbors in Need fund specifically to assist with utility payments.

That leaves $445,332 on the table, which officials currently plan to allocate next year when they decide how to spend the second payment the village will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Townsend said one of the few restrictions on the funding is that it has to be officially allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

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