Capitol Briefs: State announces parks funding; comptroller warns of tax scams; State Police unveil building plan
The state announced 111 parks and recreation projects throughout Illinois will receive a portion of $55 million in state funding this year.
The Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant program administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is a cost-sharing program between state and local governments to help further outdoor recreation projects.
Gov. JB Pritzker’s office noted $18.7 million of the funding will go toward projects in 32 economically or physically distressed communities. Those categories are calculated based on land value, poverty rates and whether the area has experienced a natural disaster or catastrophic event.
The awards included a $600,000 grant for the Carbondale Park District in Jackson County, which will oversee a renovation of Crispus Attucks Park that includes the replacement of playground equipment that will make it disabled-accessible.
Harristown, in Macon County, will receive $150,000 to build a park and playground with a pavilion, sitting areas, walking path, disabled-accessible playground, and a basketball and pickleball court.
The city of Toulon in Stark County will receive $600,000 to renovate a city park to include a splash pad, resurfacing a half-basketball court, and making a full basketball court a multi-use space. Playground equipment will also be made disabled-accessible.
Projects in 45 counties will receive funding from the OSLAD program this year.
A full list of local entities receiving OSLAD grants can be found here.
Comptroller urges awareness of tax scams
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is warning Illinoisans of email, telephone and mail tax scams as the 2024 filing season begins.
One scam, for example, may contain a letter in a cardboard envelope with an IRS letterhead that contains the text “about your unclaimed refund.” That letter may request personal information such as a photo of a driver’s license or Social Security number. The contact information on the letter, however, does not belong to the IRS.
Telephone scammers often target recent immigrants and threaten arrest or deportation if the person doesn’t send payment, often in the form of a gift card or wire transfer.
“Remember, neither the state nor the federal government will call taxpayers, threatening them and demanding payment via a wire transfer, or credit or debit card,” Mendoza said in a statement.
Mendoza’s office noted some Illinoisans have been targeted for false unemployment claims. The state sends 1099-G forms to people who have claimed unemployment. If you receive such a form but did not collect such benefits, you can contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security to report fraud.
Email and text message scams use the IRS logo seeking personal or financial information. Anyone receiving such an email can report it to the IRS at email@example.com.
Individuals should also avoid tax preparers who are unwilling to sign the forms they have prepared.
Once tax returns are filed, Illinoisans can track their state tax refund at myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov.
New State Police facility designs
The Illinois State Police released designs for a new headquarters and forensic laboratory in Joliet this week. The structures are expected to cost a combined $76.5 million, funded through the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program that originally passed in 2019.
The two buildings are approximately 75,000 square feet combined on 12 acres of land adjacent to an existing ISP building and firing range in Will County.
The new forensics lab will replace the current Joliet facility that was built in 1964 and will include space for testing DNA, firearms, latent prints, controlled substances, footwear, tire tracks and toxicology, along with areas for processing crime scene evidence.
The new facility will house an ISP investigation zone and serve as headquarters for ISP’s Troop 3, which serves from Will and Grundy counties to the state’s northern border, excluding DuPage County. The building will contain several offices, training rooms, interview rooms, an evidence area, and a large garage for vehicle storage and inspection work, according to ISP.
The project is scheduled to go out for bids in the spring.
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