AP NEWS

CVB offers to share hotel tax

April 13, 2019

BRADLEY — In an effort to keep the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau united, the agency has offered to return 20 percent of its hotel-motel taxes to the towns where it originated.

At Thursday’s Bradley Village Board Budget Committee meeting, the attorney for the CVB said he would craft a Memorandum of Understanding for each of the six governmental bodies, which would return an equal percentage of hotel tax money to the communities.

The money could then be used by those organizations to promote tourism as they see fit.

The plan, offered by attorney Joseph Cainkar, could be viewed as an olive branch to keep Bradley — the community the organization relies on the most for tax income — in the fold.

However, Trustee Mike Watson, who has led the discussion of pulling funding from the CVB, was not overly impressed.

“I’m still in the camp of we do our own taxing,” he said after the meeting. “We’re getting cooperation from them, and that’s good. ... They made a step in the right direction, but I’m not likely to be swayed.”

Watson said he would more likely favor a 1-year agreement as finances for all governmental bodies are subject to change.

He acknowledged he obviously needs to review the memorandum and discuss it.

“Then, we go from there. I’m looking for long-term solutions to what’s best for Bradley. They (CVB) are dedicated to getting an agreement, but I don’t like what I’ve seen so far. Based on what I heard, I’m not in support.”

The village board could vote on that memorandum at its April 22 board meeting.

The 5 percent hotel tax generated $685,885 last year. Of that total, $408,534 came from lodging within Bradley. Based on those figures, Bradley would receive a return of $81,706.

In addition to Bradley, the CVB is funded through the hotel taxes from Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Momence, Manteno and unincorporated Kankakee County.

CVB executive director Staci Wilken was not at the meeting. Cainkar said she was ill.

Trustee Lori Gadbois said breaking away from the countywide organization would be a step backward for the village.

She said Bradley has been the primary benefactor of tourism because the village has the vast majority of lodging.

“We need to put aside this nonsense,” she said. “If we all work together, we all win. If we are talking exclusion, we will not win. We are going down a misdirected path. What is being talked about is not regionalism.”

The CVB has been seeking the extension of the intergovernmental agreement since September. The current agreement expires at the end of the month.

All the communities except Bradley and Bourbonnais have approved the 5-year extension.

Bourbonnais is expected to vote on the extension Monday.

In addition to hotel taxes, the organization is funded through a $144,000 state grant. Wilken has said the state grant could be lost without the extension being approved.

The CVB organization was formed in 1983.