Bradley adds a tax, loses another

September 11, 2018

BRADLEY — It was good news and bad news for Bradley residents Monday, but the overall result is expected to save village taxpayers at least a few dollars per year.

Here are the moves:

The Bradley Village Board, by a 6-0 vote, eliminated the $400,000 sewer debt service from the property tax levy which will be adopted in December.

That action is expected to save the homeowner of a $200,000 house $101 per year in property taxes, noted Brian Patoska, Bradley’s finance director and treasurer.

Minutes after dropping the debt service, the village board, by a 4-2 vote, instituted a 6 percent telecommunication tax on at-home and mobile telephone service.

The tax rate only applies to telephone calls, meaning it does not apply to other fees which might be on someone’s cellular phone, Patoska said.

The tax is expected to add about $25 to the annual cost of an at-home phone and about $25 annually on a cellphone.

In all, the tax is planned to generate $360,000 annually. Voting against the tax were trustees Mike Watson and Don Barber.

Watson said instead of approving new taxes, the village should look to reduce expenses. He pointed to the police department overtime as a key eater of the village’s budget.

Watson also said village board members had indicated a public meeting would be held to give residents a chance to express their views on these issues, but no meeting was ever held.

After the meeting, he said that is not government for the people.

A few residents spoke during the public comment and voiced objections to the telecommunication tax. Of the communities in Kankakee County, Mayor Bruce Adams said the vast majority already have this tax in place. He did note Bourbonnais does not.

“We were elected to do what is in the best interest of the village and safety of our residents,” Mayor Adams said after the meeting. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

Watson also complained trustees have not been getting monthly financial reports for about a year. Those reports show the trustees what money is coming into and what is going out.

The village’s previous financial director left last year, and Patoska didn’t come on board until December. Patoska said he plans on preparing those monthly reports, but has been busy with other issues, including audits, and hasn’t been able to complete them. He said that practice will be resumed.

Watson said without those reports, trustees really don’t know what the finances are.

“We are making stabs in the dark,” he said. “That has to stop.”

The village also has three non-binding referendums on the November ballot. One of the measures was to asked voters if they favored raising the village’s sales tax rate by 1 percentage point to increase revenue.

The two other non-biding referendums were regarding raising local utility and telecommunication taxes.

Watson wondered why the board raised the telecommunication tax before voters had a chance to weigh in.

Adams said the referendum was non-biding, meaning it would not force the village to do anything. He added that if the village wants to have this tax in place by Jan. 1, the matter had to be completed now so the information could get to the Illinois Department of Revenue and in place.

Adams said even waiting a couple weeks would have caused the village to miss the start of the year.

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