WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Lake County Board Members, Dick Barr, Judy Martini, and Michael Danforth joined roughly 100 County Leaders from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan at the White House in Washington, D.C. for State Leadership Day to discuss the programs and opportunities available to local Governments to help their respective communities. Participants met with senior members of the Trump administration and Vice President, Mike Pence, on key issues like flooding, small business and economic development, the opioid and substance abuse epidemic, and revitalizing American infrastructure.
“As the requirements of our communities are growing at unprecedented rates, it is becoming increasingly important to network with our Federal partners in Washington to help address our local issues,” said Dick Barr, a Round Lake Beach Republican Member of the County Board. “Lake County needs Billions of dollars’ worth of improved infrastructure that no gas tax in Lake County will even begin to touch. Federal involvement is imperative to the future of our residents if we wish to find a way to keep residents and businesses wanting to stay in our County,” Barr added. “The senior level contacts we made in Washington will be immensely valuable to the people we serve in Lake County.”
Elected officials spent the day listening to reports and opportunities made available by the Administration for the Department of Agriculture, Army Corp of Engineers, Small Business Administration, FEMA, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Office of American Innovation and the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.
“I’ve talked with many Officials who are making use of a Federal lobbyist to get access to much needed grant revenue from the Federal Government to tackle the more difficult projects,” said Judy Martini, Republican Board Member from Fox Lake. “A small investment could spell millions in additional funding opportunities.”
“Having these conversations face to face and learning about these opportunities can make a very big impact for Lake County. The Chain of Lakes, which represents about $100 Million in annual tourism, is experiencing major detrimental effects from flooding, erosion and sedimentation which will have an increasing negative effect on the residents and tourists who live and play in Northwestern Lake County. We could make use of a Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) grant to help the Chain be more resilient to changes that are affecting our environment.”
Michael Danforth, a Barrington Republican County Board Member, said, “Our property taxes in Lake County are out of control. While the Lake County Government represents only between 5-7% of a typical resident’s property tax bill, we are always looking for ways to leverage additional funding resources to help alleviate the property tax burden of our residents.” He added, “The resources we learned about and contacts we made will go a long way to help leverage better services for our residents without adding to what already amounts to one of the highest property tax burdens in the nation.”
Executive Director of the Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACO), Joe McCoy, who also attended the conference, said, “An effective partnership between the federal government and local officials is critically important. The White House conference provides a forum for county officials from Illinois to ask direct questions of administration officials about issues of importance to their counties. I was pleased to see
our county officials take advantage of this opportunity for constructive dialogue.”
In addition to the meeting at the White House, Lake County representatives also said they met with legislative staff for U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.
“While meeting with our Federal Representatives, we provided information strongly supporting reauthorization of the “FAST Act” through the bipartisan, “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act,” as it provides federal infrastructure investments through 2025,” claimed Barr. “Additionally, we requested almost $25 Million in funding for a number of unfunded flood control projects, $9 Million for Public Works projects to
address our 70+ year average age piping infrastructure through the County, and requested fast action from the EPA on the assessment of data and presentation of results obtained from the recent Ethylene Oxide (EtO) testing performed in Lake County. We also requested additional funding for more EtO testing.”
The next step in the process is to take the information gathered and put it to good use.
“I am looking forward to meeting with the incredible staff at Lake County to go over my notes and share the information and contacts gathered during our trip to see which grants make sense for our circumstances and which grants can be effectively utilized to provide the biggest bang for our buck,” said Danforth.