Daily Journal

BRADLEY — As promised, the Bradley Village Board approved a resolution seeking a forensic audit of the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency books.

At Monday’s village board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the resolution seeking the audit for the agency which operates and manages the regional wastewater treatment facility.

The matter will be taken to the agency’s board of director’s meeting today. At least four votes of the seven-member board are needed to approve the additional audit, which Bradley finance director and KRMA board member Rob Romo said would likely cost about $20,000 and could be completed within 30 days.

He noted the agency has an operating budget of about $13 million.

Romo explained the village board that Bradley is a part owner of the complex.

“We have a vested interest in the operations of KRMA,” he said. “Nothing has been done to get the root of how this was done.”

The “this” Romo was referring to is the alleged defrauding of about $1 million by then-KRMA executive director Richard Simms. Simms was indicted by a federal grant jury earlier this year in relation to defrauding KRMA and the City of Kankakee’s Environmental Services Utility of about $2 million — $1 million from KRMA and a similar amount from Kankakee’s ESU.

Romo said he has brought his concern to the KRMA board, and it has gone nowhere.

Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, who serves as the KRMA board chairwoman, has already stated she does not think an in-depth audit is needed.

“There should be no harm that can done by looking into the books,” Romo said.

He said to prevent the possibility of another defrauding situation from taking place in the future, the KRMA board needs to get the root of what happened with the former director.

But, he said, he’s not sure how many of the remaining six KRMA board members feel the same way.

Romo added he is not seeking to a border-less forensic audit. He said the scope of audit would consist of:

• Examine the viability of all invoices paid to the city of Kankakee;

• Examine the validity of all invoices paid to Simms and/or companies associated with Simms;

He also said he would like to see the fees charged by Kankakee to the other member organizations also examined.

“I would be looking at specific items,” he explained the village board. “This isn’t a shot in the dark.”

Following the village board meeting, Romo was asked what his plan might be if the KRMA board does not endorse his request.

He said legal action would be sought and he said he would even be interested in delving into some way to alter the composition of the board, meaning taking control of the organization from Kankakee. Kankakee maintains four seats — or a board majority.

“We believe everyone should have an equal say,” he said.

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