BRADLEY — Facing a possible lawsuit, the Bradley Village Board has declined to give “a show of faith” to Kankakee County’s nonprofit tourism agency — at least for now.
At its meeting Monday, the board’s attorney, Jamie Boyd, asked members to delay the imposition of a 5 percent hotel tax by a month, to Aug. 1.
The board’s decision last month to impose the tax angered the tourism agency, the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau. That’s because it replaced a countywide tax inside village limits that had been in place since the 1980s.
Before the village levied the tax, the tourism agency’s lawyer warned in a Daily Journal interview that the group would sue the village if it did so. In making his case, the attorney, Joe Cainkar, pointed to the bureau’s agreement, which the village board approved in April shortly before newly elected members took office. It bars member municipalities from imposing their own hotel taxes.
The new village board argues its members should have been sworn in by the time the old board acted on the agreement. A week into office, the new board rescinded the contract.
Boyd advised the board to wait a month to impose the tax because village officials are in discussions with tourism agency representatives. He said the tourism agency requested the delay as “a show of faith” while village officials continue to discuss their issues with agency representatives.
“The direction we would like to go is a whole new agreement,” Boyd said. “They were looking for the status quo. I think the status quo has to change.”
Board members appeared uninterested in delaying the tax.
“We’re told to slam our brakes for our tax dollars,” trustee Ryan LeBran said.
Trustee Darren Westphal asked whether the agency had provided requested financial data.
“The short answer is no,” Boyd responded. “Nothing new has been presented.”
The board declined to vote on delaying the tax, but Mayor Mike Watson suggested members may do so at their June 24 meeting.
Because many of the county’s hotels are in Bradley, the village funds about half of the tourism agency’s budget.
Bradley has requested the agency’s general ledger, which would show the agency’s transactions. So far, the agency has declined to provide the information, although three weeks ago, it said it would, with strings attached.
Bradley is considering pulling its money from the tourism agency, suggesting it could spend the money better. Hotel owners are opposed to the effort, saying Bradley should remain united with other towns in promoting the county as a tourist destination.
After the meeting, Boyd said he didn’t want to get into specifics about what happened at village officials’ recent meeting with agency representatives.