BRADLEY — Kankakee County’s tourist agency has yet to keep its promise to release financial information to the village of Bradley, which funds about half of its budget.
Three weeks ago, Staci Wilken, executive director of the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau, pledged the nonprofit agency would release the general ledger to the village.
Since April, the bureau has been in a dispute with Bradley, which has demanded more openness. The visitors bureau is entirely funded by taxes.
In a May 17 email to Village Administrator Catherine Wojnarowski, Wilken promised to give her the general ledger as soon as a part-time employee prepared the information.
But the village has confirmed the visitors bureau had yet to provide the general ledger.
Asked about this Monday, the bureau’s attorney, Joe Cainkar, said the group still would release the information as long as Wojnarowki signed documents, including a confidentiality clause, required of new board members. Last month, the village board appointed Wojnarowski as its new representative on the visitors bureau’s board.
Cainkar said it would be up to the village’s attorney whether Wojnarowki could release the general ledger upon a citizen’s request for the information under the state’s open records law. He said he didn’t think Wojnarowski should release it.
But under the state Freedom of Information Act, Wojnarowski, acting in her role as a village official, would be hard-pressed to keep secret documents related to the expenditure of public money. Under the law, virtually all documents related to public finances are open.
Wojnarowki didn’t return a call for comment.
About two weeks ago, the village board voted to replace the countywide 5 percent hotel tax in its jurisdiction with one imposed by the village, giving Bradley more flexibility on how to spend the money.
Since the 1980s, though, Kankakee County’s towns have designated their hotel taxes for the visitors bureau. Their most recent five-year agreement states the participating municipalities cannot impose their own hotel taxes.
Minutes before Bradley’s newly elected board took office in April, the old board approved the five-year agreement. The new board says the former mayor, Bruce Adams, violated state law by delaying their swearing-in ceremony.
A week later, the new board invalidated the agreement, but the decision remains the subject of a dispute.
Bureau officials previously said village board members can drop by their office in Manteno to examine the general ledger. But they would not release the documents, saying they wanted to protect the privacy of employees and vendors and avoid placing the agency at a competitive disadvantage in promoting Kankakee County.