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Members to meet with Ottawa, Rochelle officials

Ganiere to share what his committee found

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – A member of an advisory committee formed in Ottawa to explore its commission form of government will speak to the governmental task force Wednesday, as will the Rochelle city manager.

The duo is the final visit scheduled by the panel, which has talked with East Peoria officials by telephone and met with Sterling City Manager Scott Shumard in the past 2 weeks.

Task force members hope to have their minds made up by August, then debate among themselves which form of government is best to recommend to the City Council.

Thomas Ganiere, who was chairman of Ottawa’s advisory committee, will speak about his group’s study, which concluded the mayor-council form of government was best suited for the city with a population of 18,699, compared to Dixon’s 16,000.

The governmental task force has not yet explored or discussed the mayor-council form of government, which is practiced in Rock Falls with an administrator.

Most of the panel’s discussion has focused on Dixon’s current commission form of government with an administrator versus a city manager form of government.

Although Ottawa never acted on the committee’s recommendation, Ganiere said his committee found the commission form to be outdated and out of touch with current government responsibilities.

In the commission form, commissioners hold both legislative and executive powers, serving as the heads of city departments and often tasked with overseeing day-to-day operations.

The report issued by that committee argued that elected officials might be poor administrators, referring to them as “amateurs.” It said they could spend too much time on day-to-day operations and neglect policymaking to work primarily on their departments, creating fiefdoms among city departments.

Ganiere said the group dismissed the city manager form of government, despite debate for that form, because members thought it gave too much power to one individual.

Rochelle City Manager David Plyman also will speak with Dixon’s task force.

Rochelle, which has a population of 9,754, adopted the city manager form of government in 1994, after controversy regarding city-issued credit cards.

Rochelle’s growing economy will be a focal point of the task force’s questions.

In the past decade, more than $1.2 billion in investment has been poured into the Rochelle area, highlighted by the development of ProLogis Industrial Park near the borders of Lee and Ogle counties. The city at the intersection of two interstates and two railroad lines owns its own utilities and railroad, giving it an advantage to prospective businesses.

Plyman said a city manager can bring consistency to municipal government.

“Mayors and city councils can bring to a community a seasoned professional to the day-to-day administration of city government,” Plyman said of the city manager. “Many [councilmen] have not had any experience in actually managing a multimillion-dollar organization.”

To attend

The governmental task force meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St. Rochelle City Manager David Plyman and Ottawa resident Thomas Ganiere, who served as the chairman for an advisory group that studied Ottawa's form of government, will speak.

Go to www.discoverdixon.org and click on "Citizens Information Center" or call City Hall, 815-288-1485, for an agenda or more information.

 

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