Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau Secrecy

The Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau has turned to the courts in an effort to resolve its dispute with Bradley. A status hearing on the case is set for Sept. 4.

BRADLEY — Kankakee County’s tourism organization recently filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order against Bradley in the ongoing battle for control of hotel taxes collected within the village.

The 25-page, four-count suit was filed July 31 in the Kankakee County Circuit Court. The matter has been assigned to Associate Judge Scott Sliwinski.

The case is set for a status hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 4 in courtroom 103.

Until there is resolution in this dispute, incoming Bradley-based hotel/motel taxes collected since Aug. 1 will be held by the Kankakee County Treasurer’s Office. Depending on the outcome of the suit, the money will either go to the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau or to Bradley.

CVB attorney Joseph Cainkar said he does not comment on pending litigation. However, he said the two sides had been seeking a negotiated resolution, but failed to come to an agreement both sides were happy with.

Jamie Boyd, an attorney for Bradley, declined to comment.

How the CVB will operate with the bulk of its monthly revenues being held in limbo is unclear. In the suit, the CVB contends it will not be able to meet payroll without the Bradley funds.

The suit also notes the CVB will not be able to pay its $3,830 per-month rent for its Manteno office, purchase supplies or pay utilities ($4,062 per month) and other monthly expenses.

It also was stated the CVB would not be able to market Kankakee County as a tourist destination. It was stated in the suit some $35,758 is spent monthly for that purpose.

Dire situation anticipated

“The CVB will lose its ability to attract tourists, it will breach existing contracts, suffer a loss of legitimate business interests through a loss of business and reputation ... and it will lose its competitive position in the marketplace due to Bradley working against it ...” according to the document.

Bradley has expressed dissatisfaction at how the CVB has used this money to promote tourism in Bradley. Village officials indicated they would like to pull away from the CVB and create their own tourism office.

If that action takes place, the approximate $493,000 generated in Bradley for the budget year ending June 30, 2019, would therefore remain in Bradley and be used to promote tourism targeting Bradley.

Of the 14 hotels-motels within Kankakee County, eight are in Bradley. There are a total of 897 hotel-motel rooms. That number will be just less than 1,000 as a new 94-room Holiday Inn Express is set to open late this year in Bradley.

Unfortunately for the CVB, the $493,133 figure from Bradley represents about 67 percent of its locally-generated revenues, meaning if the village pulls out of the organization, it would have damaging consequences.

The CVB’s total budget for the year ending June 30, 2018, was $840,769, according to the court document. Of that figure, the CVB spend $813,193.

This year’s budget is $899,930.

The CVB funding issue came to a boil this spring as the organization was gaining a five-year contract extension with the six governmental bodies within Kankakee County which fund the organization.

While Kankakee, Bourbonnais, Manteno, Momence and Kankakee County approved the agreement, Bradley did so at the last moment in April.

Within days of the Bradley Village Board meeting where the agreement was approved 4-3, with then-Mayor Bruce Adams casting the tie-breaking vote, Adams resigned his position, citing health concerns.

The incoming board, led by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson, set aside the vote and voted to cancel the CVB contract vote. The village, however, has remained connected to the organization as the two sides attempts to resolve issues.

The CVB believes the recently-seated Bradley board acted improperly and could not overturn the village board’s original 4-3 vote.

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