Join us for a free webinar on CURE, the Coronavirus Relief Fund Assistance Program for Local Governments, featuring presenters from the Illinois Association of County Board Members, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the Illinois Governor’s Office, to be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 10. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity started accepting applications for eligible expense reimbursements on Monday, July 6, 2020. The closing date for applications is July 17. Each municipality and county in Illinois has been assigned a dollar amount of funding to be used for government expenses incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. Examples of eligible reimbursements are temporary public medical facilities, costs of providing COVID-19 testing, emergency medical response expenses, public health expenses (including Covid-19-related communications costs), payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, expenses for actions taken to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related public health measures, and more. REGISTER HERE
According to a summary report in The Daily Yonder, the coronavirus recession has led to layoffs and closed businesses everywhere, but rural America has fared better than the nation’s largest cities. The farther away a county is from a central city, the fewer jobs it lost as the effects of Covid-19 shuttered businesses and kept people out of stores, gyms, restaurants and airports. When there were slight job gains in May, rural counties had larger percentage increases than did the counties in the middle of the nation’s largest cities. The latest county-level job counts from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics cover May of this year. Employment increased slightly from April to May, reflecting the reopening of the economy in many states during that period. But comparing May 2020 to May 2019 shows how difficult the economic picture remains for many families. Between May 2019 and May 2020, the nation lost 19.3 million jobs, a 12.3% decline. In the central city areas of the nation’s largest cities, job loss came to 14.4%. In rural counties, however, the decline in jobs from May to May was less than 9%. Basically, the farther away a county sits from a metropolitan area of a million or more, the smaller the job loss over the last year. The smallest job decline, 8.4%, was in counties that are not adjacent to any metropolitan area.
Illinois is in the unenviable position of having the highest or second highest effective property tax rates (property taxes as percent of house value) in the nation. This situation results from relatively low state support (41st in U.S.) for public education as well as having, by far, the largest number of local governments delivering services. Other things considered, there is empirical support for government decentralization and effective property taxes. With expected population declines in the future, local governments must find ways to collaborate to deliver high quality services at less per unit cost. A recent issue of Policy Profiles (Vol.20, No.3) discusses the structure of local public finance in Illinois and presents ways in which states such as New York and Ohio incentivize local governments to modernize their local government delivery systems. From the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) held its first annual Capture the Dark photography competition during May 2020. The goal was to portray the meaning of the night for people around the world. Participants were invited to submit images in five categories: Connecting to the Dark, International Dark Sky Places, Impact of Light Pollution, Bright Side of Lighting, and Youth. In two weeks, IDA received nearly 450 submissions from people around the world. An international panel of judges made the final selections. See the winning photos here.