Kendall County Board OKs spending first federal stimulus funds for grant application portal

Though still months away, SurveyMonkey-developed portal will allow county non-profits, businesses and local government agencies to apply for piece of $25 million stimulus allocation

The Kendall County Board has taken the first step towards spending federal stimulus funds through the American Rescue Plan, approving an $8,000 annual contract to create a grant application portal through SurveyMonkey, an online survey development company.

With the first half of a $25 million check now in county coffers, the board unanimously approved the three year contract alongside a new job description for a position to manage stimulus finances. County Administrator Scott Koeppel also reiterated the county board’s intention to use stimulus money for rural broadband, lost revenue from the pandemic and infrastructure projects.

“I think the intent of this bill was to get money around to the community and restart the economy,” Koeppel said during a board meeting Tuesday, June 1 “So that’ll be a good point to start with as we get more rules from the treasury as well on how that money can be spent.”

The SurveyMonkey-powered grant portal will allow the county to distribute stimulus money to local non-profits, businesses and other government entities. Though officials don’t have hard guidance on who will be eligible to receive funds, it will be several months before the online portal can go live.

Officials said the portal will allow businesses and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to enter their information and answer questions, including if they’re previously received stimulus money.

The $24,000 contract with the survey developer is the first stimulus money spent by the county. In addition, stimulus funds will be used to pay the salary and benefits of an incoming finance and budget analyst. The position may be a temporary one, limited by federal requirements that all stimulus money be spent by 2026.

Funds will also be used to pay for Koeppel and other county staff’s time working on the stimulus.

As for other ways to spend the funds, officials identified revenue lost due to the pandemic and installing rural broadband in the southern and western portions of Kendall County. With rural broadband another top priority for the administration of President Joe Biden, even more funds may be available in the future.

“The first thing is to get guidance from the finance committee and figure out what our lost revenue is, then after that working on some of the other projects,” Koeppel remarked.

County officials are also seeking input from the public for ideas on how to spend the $25 million deposit.

“It’s a constantly evolving process,” said Board Chairman Scott Gryder. “We’re hoping to get some more public feedback, especially as the summer goes on as well to see if there’s some areas we’re not thinking of too that would make sense.”

Lucas Robinson

Lucas Robinson covers politics, courts, schools and the pandemic in Kendall County and Yorkville for Shaw Media. His work has previously appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Buenos Aires Times, Open Secrets and USAToday. He grew up in Muncie, Indiana.