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Has check-out time come for Bradley?

September 25, 2018

BRADLEY — Could Bradley opt out of the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau?

At least one village trustee, Mike Watson, would like to see this issue explored.

According to the bureau, of the $685,885 generated locally through the 5 percent Kankakee County-imposed hotel/motel tax, $408,534 comes through lodging within Bradley’s village limits.

Those monies were generated in the KCCVB’s budget year ending June 30.

That equation led Watson at Monday’s Bradley Village Board meeting to wonder if Bradley would be better imposing its own tax and then use these funds to promote the village exclusively as opposed to seeing it used countywide.

The discussion came as Bradley was being asked to extend a temporary six-month agreement with the agency charged with bringing tourists to the county and, in particular, to stay at hotels.

The board, by a 4-3 vote, agreed to the extension. However, Watson said he would like to see a review of how the money is spent and how Bradley could spend it on tourism efforts if it were coming to the village.

“We certainly should look at all options,” Watson said after the meeting. “I’m not sure we are getting the lion’s share of the advertisement and promotion.

“Could Bradley do better on its own? You can’t be afraid to have the discussion. I’m pro-Bradley. Period.”

The countywide tourism organization has been in place since 1983.

Mayor Bruce Adams, who is vice chairman of the tourism board, said his intention is to keep Bradley as part of the organization.

“They are the experts,” he said of the bureau. “We need to manage the village, not county tourism. Why put communities on an island doing these things by themselves? We do a better job when we work together.”

Watson contended the village would hire its own professional if it had its own tourism bureau. Staci Wilken, KCCVB’s director, earns $92,500.

“This is also of money,” Watson said of the $408,534 generated in Bradley. “We could be marketing Bradley.”

The bureau has been trying to get a new 10-year contract signed by all the municipalities it serves along with the Kankakee County Board.

All the other communities — Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Manteno and Momence — have agreed to the new contract. However, because the county has yet to sign the document, the agency is seeking six-month extensions from those towns while waiting for the county to sign the agreement.

The county has not signed the document as it waits on an opinion from the Illinois Attorney General’s office regarding whether local tourism employees can join the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

If the tourism organization does not receive extension from these communities, Wilken said they could lose a $144,000 state grant for travel marketing.

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