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More pay for manager considered in Dixon

Others had volunteered to do job for no salary

DIXON – Although two volunteers say they’d do the job for free, the Dixon Riverfront Commission might increase the pay of its executive manager, its chairman said.

The commission at its meeting tonight will consider paying Kay Miller $800 a month. She’s been paid $200 a month for the past year. But until late last year, Miller was paid $1,000 a month.

John Weitzel said he told the commission last year that he and fellow volunteer Josie Almassy would do the work for no salary. They volunteered when the commission was discussing Miller’s salary and the rumor was that she wouldn’t take a pay cut.

“I don’t think they want us anyhow,” Weitzel said. “That’s my personal opinion.”

He said he thought personality conflicts and Almassy’s frequent vacations might be a reason.

Miller ultimately took the pay cut. Now the board is discussing restoring most of that reduction.

Almassy, a frequent volunteer for many local organizations, applied for the executive manager position when it first was created, she said. At the time, pay hadn’t been discussed.

“They didn’t have any money,” Almassy said, “so I don’t care. I love doing stuff like this.”

Weitzel sits on the Dixon Park Board, as well as the city’s Plan Commission. He had worked on the Riverfront project for the first several years.

Riverfront Commission Chairman Larry Reed said he isn’t interested in making a change.

“Their philosophy and vision was nothing like what we were looking at,” he said.

Weitzel said even if the commission decided not to take him and Almassy up on their offer, other volunteers likely would be willing to commit on a yearly basis to being the executive manager.

The position requires being available days and evenings to take reservations and manage the schedule of events, Reed said when the position was created in May 2010.

About a year after Miller took the position, the commission was rethinking her pay, concerned that the Riverfront’s income couldn’t support it.

The executive manager is paid from the Riverfront’s maintenance fund. For a little more than a year, Miller was to receive $200, plus $800 more a month if the sale of amenities supported it. But Miller was consistently paid $1,000 a month regardless of the revenue and expenses.

Reed said Monday that he thinks the Riverfront can support the increase in pay. He had the treasurer put together income-and-expense reports for 2011 and 2012, along with next year’s projected revenue.

“If we go on the record we had this past year, yes, [we can support the increased salary],” Reed said. “If we go the year before, it was very close. This last year the income was better with no loss of income with the events that we had.”

But a review of the commission’s monthly treasurer’s reports doesn’t reflect that. Sauk Valley Media requested treasurer reports for all of 2011. It did not receive one for April, which may affect the totals.

In 2011, the Riverfront lost about $9,500 – bringing in about $30,500 and spending nearly $40,000 – including Miller’s salary.

This year has been better, Reed said, and the treasurer’s reports show it.

In the first 8 months, the Commission brought in about $29,000 and spent about $19,000.

But the year was not without events that lost money. Both the President Luncheon in February and a luncheon at the Lee County Council on Aging in April lost money, according to the treasurer’s reports. The April luncheon cost the Riverfront $450.

Neither Weitzel nor Almassy thinks Miller is earning her salary.

Almassy worked with Miller on the Midsummer Jubilee dinner, a fundraiser for the Riverfront and Dixon Main Street. She criticized Miller for a number of things, including forgetting to pick up items and for writing a letter to the editor that was meant to thank volunteers and sponsors but didn’t name them.

She said she won’t volunteer for the Riverfront again.

Reed, though, argued in past interviews that $200 a month barely covers Miller’s expenses and doesn’t really compensate her for her time.

He was contacted by one volunteer, who said he wasn’t going to volunteer again, Reed said. The volunteer’s complaint, he said, was that things weren’t done the way he would have done them.

“I don’t have anything that concerns me when it comes to the volunteers on the Riverfront,” Reed said.

Also Tuesday

The Riverfront Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

Besides voting on whether to raise Executive Manager Kay Miller's salary, it also will decide whether to employ the grant-writing services of Frank Rausa of Sterling.

Rausa approached the commission last month with a proposal. Since then, he has met with Chairman Larry Reed and Paul Miller, a member of the commission who is in charge of grant writing, Reed said. They also met with Mayor Jim Burke.

They reached an agreement, to be presented tonight, in which Rausa would receive a commission only if the grant application is successful. The commission would be between 2 and 5 percent of the grant, not to exceed $10,00, Reed said.

"We didn't see any downsides on his attempting to do it," Reed said.

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