Watson set to break tradition

May 1, 2019

BRADLEY — The man who may well become Bradley’s mayor plans to break tradition when it comes to the regional sewer plant agency.

Area mayors typically appoint themselves to serve on the sewer plant board, a position that pays $600 per monthly meeting.

However, Bradley’s Mike Watson said he would, instead, appoint a village employee to attend Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency meetings.

The agency’s board members make more than those of most government boards in the area. Kankakee County board members, for example, get paid $70 per meeting.

KRMA’s officers make even more than the rank-and-file. Former Bradley Mayor Bruce Adams, who resigned Friday, pulled in $700 per meeting as the board’s chairman.

Members get the payments only if they attend meetings, but say they do other things for the agency such as homework before meetings.

Watson, who was recently re-elected as a village board member, said the meeting payment for Bradley’s staff representative will go to the village’s treasury, not the employee.

Asked whether the village would push for lowering KRMA board members’ pay, Watson said, “We could potentially be that voice.”

In 2007, KRMA members’ pay was increased to $600, from $50. None of the current members served then.

In an interview shortly after the April 2 election, Watson called KRMA board members’ pay “excessive.”

“It tells the average person that (KRMA board members) are lining their own pockets,” he said.

The mayors of Kankakee, Bourbonnais and Aroma Park are on the agency’s board. The three other members represent Kankakee, giving the city majority control. Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong is the vice chairman.

Now, the agency is in a dispute with Richard Simms, its longtime executive director who resigned a year ago. He billed the agency $700,000 for software that reportedly does not work. Simms now is under federal investigation.

On KRMA’s troubles, Watson said, “I hope there’s no wrongdoing at KRMA, but there are a lot of doubts. There are problems that need to be addressed still.”