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New position OK’d; some get 3 percent raises

City grants 3 percent hikes for workers

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 1:15 a.m. CST

DIXON – The City Council on Monday added a new position – a clerical assistant for the police and fire chiefs.

The salary will range from $30,000 to $35,000.

The decision is the latest in a series of increased personnel spending by the city. The actions follow the April arrest of then-City Comptroller Rita Crundwell, who is accused of misappropriating $53 million in city money over more than two decades.

“Staffing has been pretty thin over the years,” Police Chief Danny Langloss told the council. “There is no designated administrative assistant for the fire and police chiefs. I and the lieutenants do the administrative and secretarial work on our own.”

He said he and Fire Chief Tim Shipman spend much of their days with clerical duties, using time that would be better spent on providing leadership, vision and strategy for their departments.

Mayor Jim Burke agreed.

“If we advertised for a new fire or police chief, I doubt we’d advertise for someone who would do clerical work,” he said.

City Commissioner David Blackburn said the city has been struggling with cash flow, so he asked that the city hire the assistant after the beginning of the new year.

“The timing would be better in knowing where we’re at,” he said.

Commissioner Dennis Considine said that if the cash flow improves before then, the city could hire the assistant sooner.

The council unanimously approved the position, with Commissioner Jeff Kuhn absent.

Such an increase in personnel spending is part of a trend.

At the same meeting, the council approved 3 percent pay increases for workers in the Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – the same raise other employees have received.

In August, the council approved a pay increase for Public Works Director Shawn Ortgiesen from $110,00 to $118,000 – a move that some residents protested. Officials said Ortgiesen received the raise because he had taken on the duties of a personnel director. Before, Crundwell was given $8,000 to handle those responsibilities.

Also in August, the council awarded bonuses to City Clerk Kathe Swanson and Deputy City Clerk Stephanie Terranova in light of the extra work they’ve taken on because of the FBI investigation and subsequent firing of Crundwell.

Swanson was to receive a onetime bonus of $10,000, about one-fifth of her salary, and Terranova was to get $3,500.

In other business

Also at Monday's Dixon City Council meeting:

– Council members said they approved the plan for a museum at Veterans Memorial Park. The Veterans Memorial Park Commission hopes to build an 8,000-square-foot museum on the north end of the park. The commission isn't asking for money, but said it must raise $1 million – primarily through grants – to make the project a reality.

"You have done a tremendous job," Mayor Jim Burke said. "Everything you've said you would do, you have done."

Charlie Taylor, a member of the veterans commission, said the group has raised more than $300,000 over 11 years for various projects at the park. Now, he said, the group wants to form as a nonprofit corporation, making it easier to get grants .

–The council delayed consideration of a proposal to pay riverfront manager Kay Miller $800 a month. Earlier this month, the Riverfront Commission recommended the raise.

Since late last year, Miller's monthly salary has been $200, but before that she was paid $1,000 a month.

– Sean Wagner took the oath as a new Dixon firefighter. His family was on hand.

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