Daily Journal

BRADLEY — A $23.5 million budget — which has money earmarked for three new firefighters, an ambulance, police cars, and street and alley improvements — was approved by the village of Bradley trustees.

By a 4-0 vote, the village board adopted the spending document on its first reading. The board is expected to approve the budget, with its $224,000 surplus, on its final reading on May 11.

The new budget year begins May 1. It is not uncommon for municipal governments to extend the current budget year in an effort to prepare the new document. Bradley, however, did not need an extension.

The budget is some $5 million higher than the 2020 budget of $18.5 million. The increased village budget is largely due to about $2 million in projected increases in sales taxes and $2.25 million in state and federal grants for road work.

The village administration had been on target to have a budget surplus of between $800,000 to $1 million at the conclusion of the 2020 budget year on Thursday, but the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus, trimmed that surplus to about $200,000, noted finance director Rob Romo.

The village still is projecting strong retail figures as Bradley is the home to numerous so-called essential businesses such as Menards, Lowe’s, Target and Meijer which brought in strong sales tax revenue these past several weeks, Romo said.

The budget targets some $5 million in capital projects. Among the highlights are $3 million for road and alley improvements; $600,000 for an ambulance and nine police cars; $600,000 for parks and recreation upgrades; $400,000 for village building and property improvements; $200,000 for five intersection cameras along Illinois 50; and $200,000 for new accounting software.

The board is committing to adding three new firefighters to the current six-member department as it targets adding a second fire station, in the village’s northeast area, in the near future.

The administration will also be sending village property owners property tax rebate payments in the late autumn as promised due to the adoption of the 1 percentage point increase in the village’s 6.25 percent sales tax rate passed by voters in the March primary election. The new 7.25 percent tax rate takes effect July 1.

“Mayor [Mike] Watson and I went through and projected the income, line by line, as best we can,” Romo said of the budget. “We have several [essential] stores doing quite well” since the pandemic, Romo said.

On the flip side, Romo said new vehicle dealerships, of which Bradley is the home to several, have not fared well since the economy was brought to a standstill. However, Romo is hoping that as stimulus checks and tax returns begin to make their way into the wallets of village residents, those businesses will begin to pick up as well.

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