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Daily Journal
     August 25, 2020      #93-238 KDJ

Bradley 'demands' forensic KRMA audit 

By Lee Provost

BRADLEY — The federal criminal indictment of former Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency Executive Director Richard Simms is not enough to satisfy Bradley village leadership.

At Monday’s Bradley Village Board meeting, finance director Rob Romo was given the OK by trustees to begin interviewing potential accounting firms which could complete a “forensic” accounting of the troubled agency, perhaps going back as far as 15 years.

The board is expected to approve a resolution authorizing the hiring of an accounting firm at its Sept. 14 village meeting. The matter will then be brought to the seven-member KRMA board at its Sept. 15 meeting.

“I am not going to ask for a forensic audit. We demand a forensic audit,” Roma said after the board meeting. Romo said if the KRMA board fails to respond to his demand, the village board will begin pursuit of legal action against Kankakee. He said this legal action would seek to “break up the monopoly they have on this board.

Romo is referring to the fact that Kankakee controls four of the seven KRMA board seats, basically granting the city controlling interest of the organization. Other board votes come from Bradley, Bourbonnais and Aroma Park.

“There are a lot of questionable practices which need to be looked into,” Romo said. “We need to put pressure on Kankakee.”

The four Kankakee board members are Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, who serves as the board president; city comptroller Elizabeth Kubal; 7th Ward Alderman Carl Brown; and Limestone resident Marc Wakat. Other board members are Bourbonnais Mayor Paul Schore, Aroma Park Mayor Brian Stump and Romo.

KRMA has been placed under a cloud of suspicion following the investigation and indictment of Simms on charges of defrauding KRMA and the city of Kankakee’s Environmental Services Utility of more than $2 million between 2014 and 2018.

Romo laid out five areas of concerns he has regarding KRMA and Kankakee.

His issues are: Composition of the KRMA board, pilot fees access by Kankakee, KRMA’s financial practices, sewer plant capacity and flow, and laboratory testing fees.

The audit and legal counsel, he said, are needed to “examine the legality of the governance of the current administration, operation and fiscal accounting practices of KRMA. Even after all the scandals and alleged corruption, KRMA’s Board of Directors has done little to mitigate risk at KRMA, he said.

“Moreover, the KRMA Board of Directors stated that they have done and will continue to do a fine job in managing KRMA,” he said.

Romo concluded that with Kankakee controlling the board majority, nothing with change at KRMA unless Bradley takes these initiatives.

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