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Members target cities to study

Committee sets August deadline to offer opinion

DIXON – The governmental task force charged with recommending the best form of government for the city now has an attack plan and a self-imposed August deadline.

At Wednesday’s meeting, committee members said they will meet with city officials in East Peoria, Pekin, Sterling, Rochelle, Ottawa and Dixon in upcoming weeks, and will try to give an opinion on which form of government is best by the beginning of August.

This does not mean they will be ready to make a recommendation by then, members said, as more discussion is expected to take place between those with differing opinions.

Mayor Jim Burke created the task force to address which form of government is the best for Dixon as it moves past the Rita Crundwell scandal.

Tom Shaw, CEO of Shaw Media, parent company of Sauk Valley Media, presented discussion points Wednesday focusing on the adoption of a code of ethics for city officials.

Task force Chairwoman Marilyn Coffey and City Administrative Assistant Amanda Bradshaw will send invitations to officials from the selected cities, along with a list of questions the committee compiled about their forms of government.

The panel chose East Peoria because it has a commission form of government with an administrator. Police Chief Danny Langloss, special assistant to the City Council, visited East Peoria on Tuesday.

The form allowed for efficiency in economic development but did not give clear authority to its city administrator, said Langloss, who plans to make a detailed report to the City Council.

Rochelle and Pekin were chosen because both recently switched from the commission to the city manager form and could offer insight into both, and into the transition process.

Committee members are interested in talking to past members of a similar governmental task force in Ottawa, who recommended their city change from a commission form to mayor-council, and Sterling was selected as a representation of city manager government.

No mayor-council forms of government with an administrator, such as Rock Falls employs, were chosen for further study.

Members said last week that they are focused on recommending a form of government that uses an administrator.

In his presentation, Shaw said he wanted to put economic growth at the forefront of the committee’s recommendation.

“We believe that economic growth should be the primary strategic focus of the mayor and commissioners as economic growth and vitality provides, in addition to its many benefits, the tax revenues elected officials and city government need to serve the citizens’ common good,” he wrote in a draft recommendation to serve as a discussion point.

Also, Shaw suggested the mayor and city commissioners adopt and “execute their duties to the citizens of Dixon according to a set of ethical standards.”

Adopting a code of ethics was strongly advised by John Phillips of the Illinois City/County Management Association last week.

Task force member Bill Wadsworth liked the idea of a code of ethics, but added “it only will work if the people in [government] believe in them.”

Langloss said a code of ethics could set a well-defined culture at City Hall to which officials would conform.

The task force did not yet schedule its next meeting.

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