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Datelin Dixon: Council will shape new position

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – The City Council has the power.

Well, as long as it asserts it.

Recently, city commissioners debated what should be included in a job description for the new administrator position.

Police Chief Danny Langloss, special assistant to the City Council, recommended one that gives commissioners the final authority in all departmental matters.

Still, commissioners worried they might lose their influence over the city.

Whether that’s a good thing is a different argument, and one for which the people of Dixon must make up their own minds.

During the meeting, Mayor Jim Burke shared a story about a mayor he knows in a city with the manager form of government. He did not name the city.

Burke said the mayor told him, “You should get this form of government. You don’t have to do anything.”

Burke concluded: “I don’t want this to happen in Dixon.”

Well, that may be the case in that city, but it isn’t because of the form of government.

In fact, Rochelle City Manager David Plyman gave examples to the governmental task force of how the City Council is involved in every decision within his community, and gets the final say in almost every one.

Regardless if it’s a commission form or a manager form of government, the City Council has significant power in this process, but let’s stick to Dixon’s commission form.

As has been stated by several sources all along, including Dawn Peters of the Illinois City/County Managerial Association, the City Council can give an administrator in its job description as little or as much power as it wishes.

And commissioners always have the upper hand. They hire and fire the candidate.

Want a candidate that involves the City Council in decisions? Make that a clear priority during job interviews.

What happens if the candidate doesn’t follow through? The council could give him or her the ax.

Adversely, if the council wants a candidate to take hold of more of the day-to-day operations of the city, so it can focus on policy, it can do so.

Readers may be thinking to themselves, where do we come in?

With this significant amount of power given to the City Council, voters can hold it liable with its vote.

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