Retail

The Village of Bradley has a cash surplus of $10.99 million thanks in part to the amount of sales tax collected as it is the region's retail hub.

Mike Watson

Mike Watson

BRADLEY — With many governmental bodies struggling to make ends meet, Bradley is bucking the trend and village officials say the just-completed Fiscal Year 2021 audit proves it.

The village completed the most recent fiscal year on April 30 and had a surplus in excess of $2 million. When that figure was added onto the budget year’s cash surplus of $8.99 million, the village finished the year with a cash surplus of $10.99 million.

Mayor Mike Watson labeled the audit report as “awesome.”

The village was also at full funding of its police and fire pension funds. At $2.9 million, the police pension is 98.1 percent funded, while the fire fund is at 111 percent funded with $396,854.

At the conclusion of the audit report from Brad Porter, of the Naperville accounting firm, Lauterbach & Amen, LLP, he praised the village administration for making “some very solid fiscal decisions, especially during some very challenging years.”

Watson, in a joking fashion, asked village finance director Rob Romo if there will be even better news after the next fiscal year audit.

“Of course,” Romo retorted.

After the board meeting, Romo said the village is perhaps in the strongest fiscal position it has ever been in.

Watson was obviously pleased with the report and didn’t downplay his administration’s role in its success.

“We know how to manage a business and a municipality and lower taxes for the residents,” he said.

He was asked how much budget surplus he would be comfortable with. He hedged on the answer by stating he wants the village in a “healthy” fiscal spot.

“I’m not embarrassed [for the village] to have a healthy bank account. I’m not embarrassed by that one bit,” he said.

Romo noted the village is also following through on its pledge to rebate the village’s portion of property taxes because of the strong financial position it finds itself in.

Romo noted the 1 percentage-point increase in the village’s portion of the sales tax is a chief reason for the surplus. He said the village is realizing about $1 million monthly on sales tax income, roughly a 40 percent increase over the revenue generate prior to the tax rate increase.

He said on a monthly basis, Bradley retailers are selling merchandise at a $100-million-per-month rate. He said business at locations such as Lowe’s Home Improvement, Menards, Target, Walmart and car dealerships is robust.

Bradley is recognized as Kankakee County’s retail hub.

“Things are really looking bright in our town,” he said.

Romo noted the village is not simply sitting on its cash reserves. He said the village is working on resurfacing streets and alleys and is looking to upgrade the parks as well.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.