DIXON – Strategic planning and leadership training will help the City Council set goals and will create accountability, City Engineer Shawn Ortgiesen told commissioners at their meeting Monday.
The commissioners then approved a $31,400 strategic planning agreement with Naperville company Sikich, and also gave the go-ahead to advertise for an engineer for downtown streetscaping and for energy improvements at City Hall.
The strategic plan will help the City Council create short- and long-term goals, develop plans and set a schedule to meet those goals. It not only will make residents aware of the direction the city is taking, but also give them the ability to hold commissioners accountable if the goals are not met, Ortgiesen said.
The goals and schedules will be posted on the city’s website, he said.
“I have been asked whether the end result of this process will be a plan that can actually be used, or will it just be a document that looks good, but has no usefulness?” Ortgiesen said. “In answer to this question, I would like to highlight the performance-based action planning of this initiative.”
Creating the strategic plan will be an 8-month process that will include input from citizens. The work will begin in early May, and the city’s entire framework, including projects and finances, will be examined.
Online surveys or surveys accompanying water bills could be used. Focus groups and community meetings will be scheduled, he said.
Rita Crundwell stole nearly $54 million from the city, sending its operating funds more than $19 million in the red and leaving several infrastructure projects undone.
“I think this is a logical plan,” Commissioner Jeff Kuhn said. “We need guidance on how to come back fiscally responsible and responsive to our citizens, but I don’t want to see a plan that looks great at the time put on the shelf.”
Commissioner Dennis Considine said department heads and city employees must participate and also will be held accountable.
Also Monday, the City Council agreed to advertise for an engineer for a streetscaping project that would be funded through the downtown tax increment financing fund, which is recycled tax dollars from businesses within the downtown district.
The project will cost about $300,000 a year over the 12-year life of the TIF fund, Ortgiesen estimated. It would include period lighting, landscaping, new curbs and resurfacing streets, similar to what was done to downtown Hennepin Avenue.
The project isn’t guaranteed: Once an engineer is hired and its survey of work to be done is completed, around the start of next year, the council will decide how it wants to proceed, if at all, he said.
For City Hall, Ortgiesen said a contractor will evaluate the building looking for several areas where the city can save money in energy improvements, including heating, air conditioning and lighting.
The council then will decide what improvements will be made.