As Kendall Area Transit (KAT) keeps waiting for money vital to its operations to come in from the state, Kendall County officials have advanced money to keep the local public transportation service running for about another month in the meantime.
The Kendall County Board discussed the matter during their board meeting Tuesday night, March 5, at the Kendall County Office Building, 111 W. Fox St.
John Purcell, county board member who represents District 1 and the county's finance committee chairman, said the county treasurer cut a $170,000 check to Kendall Area Transit ahead of the Tuesday meeting.
"The way they've explained it to us is that they've never seen it this bad with the state," Purcell said.
Purcell said the county is not pulling money from any other county funds for the advance. He said the loan is only pulling from the about $173,000 that was already sitting in rollover funds designated for the agency.
Purcell said this is the first time the county has had to give an advance to the public transportation service. He said the check ordinarily would have been cut a little later in the year anyway.
"We thought, because it was so unique and they're stuck between a rock and a hard place, I thought it would be good to make the other board members aware of this," Purcell said.
Voluntary Action Center exhausted a $600,000 line of credit at First National Bank by mid-January, Rogers had said. The agency had to request an additional $200,000 credit line while waiting for state funds to come in nine months into the 2019 fiscal year, Mike Neuenkirchen, associate director for Voluntary Action Center, said in a Feb. 26 memorandum to the county.
"VAC has exhausted all resources from our financial institutions and seeking Kendall County's assistance to sustain KAT service until state reimbursement becomes available," Neuenkirchen said in the Feb. 26 memo.
Neuenkirchen was not at the Tuesday Kendall County Board meeting, but he said the Illinois Department of Transportation expects payment approvals to be sent to the comptroller's office in early March. He said the agency should see their first requisition payments arrive in the next 30 to 45 days and should be able to reimburse those funds to the county in that time frame, but the main concern was having available funds to keep operating in the next 30 days while waiting for state payment.
"it gives us some breathing room until we wait for funds to come in," Neuenkirchen said.
The advance comes after the DeKalb County Board approved a $166,000, no-interest loan for the organization to continue operating as it waited for up to $1 million it said it is owed in state grant payments and more than $200,000 in federal grant payments. Ellen Rogers, executive director for Voluntary Action Center, had said in mid-January the organization has experienced funding delays at the state and federal levels in the past few years. However, she had said, it is the most extreme this year.
Kendall Area Transit began service to Kendall County in March 2010, according to a 2015 news release from the agency. The service gave 26,312 rides from July 2016 to June 2017, 29,105 rides from July 2017 to June 2018 and is projected to give nearly 32,000 rides by June 2019, according to county board agenda documents.
Purcell said the service's operations remain vital to the community.
"We're trying to keep this program afloat," Purcell said.
Neuenkirchen said everyone on the Kendall County Board he's talked to see and understand the vitality for the growing program in the area. He said they have been very supportive of it and it shows the county's commitment to continue the service.
"As operator, we're very grateful that the units of government we're working with, Kendall County specifically, really see the need for this program," Neuenkirchen said.