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Dateline Dixon: Citizens can make strategic plan a success

DIXON – City commissioner Jeff Kuhn said he doesn’t want to see a $31,400 strategic plan put on the shelf and go to waste.

Nor does he have to.

A strategic plan, by its nature, creates accountability, and in turn, gives power to the residents and voters of Dixon.

After all the leadership sessions, workshops and surveys, the City Council will come away with a final plan, “a road map,” as many call it.

This road map will set goals with a plan and schedule for reaching them.

City Engineer Shawn Ortgiesen said it will be posted online and made available to anybody who wants to view it at City Hall.

In other words, voters will get their own road map for measuring their commissioners’ progress.

That means if the strategic plan starts collecting dust and the city makes no ground in its goals, the City Council could face consequences come election time.

And better yet, residents will give input on what they believe the priorities of the city should be.

They will have a chance to voice their opinions through surveys, or they can attend any workshops the city hosts in the process.

Sauk Valley Media will do its part to let residents know when these workshops are scheduled, and cover them.

This is an opportunity for Dixon citizens to be heard.

In my hometown of Streator, where I reported for 2 years before coming to Dixon, the City Council dove into a roughly $800,000, much-needed upgrade to improve its city park, including construction of a band shelter and new parking lot.

Listed as a goal in its strategic plan, the City Council used several funding mechanisms, including tax increment financing, a short-term loan and setting up an account for donations.

City Manager Paul Nicholson said the strategic plan drawn up in 2011 was instrumental in helping them organize the project. Also, it was a collaborative plan put together from several voices in the city.

No surprise, two City Council members up for re-election April 9 both made references to “making good” on the city’s plan.

When city commissioner seats come up for re-election again in Dixon, just remember, a great place to start will be: “Did you make good on the plan?”

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