Legislative Update -- December 9, 2021December 9, 2021
The Accelerate Illinois initiative, announced December 1 with an application deadline of December 30, will provide twelve communities across the state with "expert support...offered as part of an intensive 14-week community engagement program designed to turn available public broadband funding into sustainable broadband access." Successful applicants will receive "30 hours of no-cost expert counsel provided by the Benton Institute and structured engagement for communities to identify broadband goals, understand available funding options, and target capital dollars to support implementation." Clearly the goals of this initiative parallel ILA's 2022 legislative priority to seek state-provided broadband to public libraries similar to that offered to K-12 schools via the Connect Illinois program, and we will seek to tie our proposal to the initiative's stated aims and show that libraries are key to a fully-connected state. While Accelerate Illinois is a competitive opportunity that will only be awarded to twelve communities, not (yet) a statewide solution, we expect the models it develops to provide guidance for how to achieve statewide coverage.
FEMA Providing Retroactive Reimbursements at 100%
We've reported previously on the opportunity to apply for public assistance via the Illinois Emergency Management Authority (IEMA) to cover such things as PPE and work done in libraries to enable safe re-opening to the public. FEMA has extended the period for eligible costs incurred from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021; and will reimburse at 100% rather than the typical 75% with a 25% cost share to be borne by the recipient. FEMA directs questions to the local agencies; as of today, IEMA's site still cites a 75%/25% cost share. The minimum reimbursement to apply remains $3,300. Here is the authorizing document from FEMA.