BRADLEY — Exactly one week after finally approving its five-year extension to support the Kankakee County tourism group, the Bradley Village Board backed away like an unwelcome guest.
By a 6-0 vote, the Bradley trustees rescinded the previous 4-3 vote, which had the village remaining as one of six local governments units supporting the organization charged with helping fill Kankakee County hotels and motels, the bulk of which rest within Bradley’s boundaries.
Why the sudden change? The board’s makeup has dramatically shifted with three new Progressive Citizens Party representatives replacing three Democratic Party members.
The new members were sworn in at the conclusion of last week’s meeting and after the Democratic-controlled board had voted to extend the pact. Mayor Bruce Adams cast the tie-breaking vote to retain the agreement. He has since resigned.
The six-member board now is comprised of five Progressive Citizens members. The sixth member of the village board is Democrat Bob Redmond.
The Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau took center stage at the start of Monday’s special board meeting and without discussion, the April 22 vote was tossed aside.
Which direction the reversal will next take is yet to take shape.
Joe Cainkar, the attorney for the tourism organization, said Monday afternoon that the village board cannot simply change its mind. He said the agreement the CVB has with the six sponsoring governments already has been filed in Springfield.
The agreement allows Kankakee County to collect a 5 percent per room hotel-motel tax. The tax last year generated $685,885, money which is used to promote the region to tourists.
Because Bradley is host to the majority of the county’s hotels, most of the money comes from Bradley. Of the $685,885 total, $408,534 originated from Bradley.
The five other member communities are Kankakee, Bourbonnais, Momence, Manteno and unincorporated Kankakee County.
“They cannot just pull out at this point,” Cainkar said. “We have a signed contract, a signed agreement. When everyone signed it, it was sent. The board can’t rescind something that’s done. It’s my opinion that they have no way out of this agreement.”
Staci Wilken, CVB executive director, said after the meeting the organization will move forward under the fully executed agreement and will promote tourism throughout all of Kankakee County.
Earlier this month, the CVB, in an attempt to keep Bradley in the fold, offered to return 20 percent of the tax collected in each community. While the sides have been working on this agreement, it has not yet come forth for a vote.
If the agreement were in place last year, it would have returned about $82,000 to Bradley to use for tourism promotion.
The existing CVB agreement expires today, the final day of April. The five-year extension would run through June 2024.
Mike Watson, a village trustee who is the Progressive Citizens leader, has also led the opposition to the CVB agreement. After the meeting, he was asked what move is next for Bradley in regard to tourism promotion. He said the village would have to adopt its own ordinance to impose hotel-motel tax.
He did leave some wiggle room between Bradley and the CVB. When asked if this matter may wind up in court for a judge to decide, he said he did not want that to be the case.
“I would like this to be resolved through discussion,” Watson said. “Hopefully we can become one body.”
The CVB has been operating in Kankakee County since 1983.