Highlights county’s efforts to provide safety net during pandemic crisis
At Thursday’s meeting of the Will County Board, County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant delivered the annual State of the County address in which she highlighted the accomplishments and acknowledged the challenges during an unprecedented year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collaboration was a theme throughout the address as Bertino-Tarrant recognized the efforts of staff and elected officials in turning around the county’s vaccination effort and distributing millions in federal assistance to
struggling businesses and families to help stay afloat due to COVID-19.
“Will County residents are resilient, and sometimes an extra helping hand is all that is needed,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Time and again, our county employees answered that call for help, going above and beyond to assist with
vaccine distribution, making that extra call to help a neighbor in need all while ensuring county government continued to serve all who live, work, and do business in our county.”
She highlighted Will County’s continued growth despite frequent variations in COVID-19 restrictions last year, including more than $1billion in new investment in the county and the creation of 1,600 new jobs. Other
important topics included efforts to modernize county technology and operations to improve efficiency and customer service, which is a focal point for Bertino-Tarrant’s administration.
“These investments demonstrate Will County is remains attractive to new business and supports existing businesses,” she said. “Modernizing our technology enables faster, more informed and efficient decision- making, productive coordination among staff, improved physical and digital security, and more responsive services for our business owners and our residents which will promote future growth.”
Bertino-Tarrant also presented the county’s Fiscal Year 2022 $678 million balanced budget during her remarks, which she noted was $16 million less than last year’s budget. Despite this reduction, the budget meets all the
county’s debt obligations and includes 14 new positions required by criminal justice reform legislation recently passed by the Illinois legislature.
“This budget helps us achieve four basic principles: investing in our infrastructure, making government more accessible and efficient, implementing smart growth policies, and fully supporting the departments on the
frontlines of the COVID response.,” she said. “These are the principles that guide us, not only as we budget, but also as we govern.”
The budget is now in the hands of the county board who must approve a new budget at its November meeting before the fiscal year begins December 2021.