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Attorney explains how to implement decision

Panel to meet with Rock Falls officials

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – The governmental task force has been studying since May which form of government will work best for the city.

Wednesday, members asked how to implement what they decide.

They also decided to interview a Rock Falls public official, in order to better understand the mayor-council form of government, before beginning its deliberations.

Dixon resident Li Arellano asked the panel last week to take a closer look at the mayor-council form of government. The task force has primarily studied the commission form and the city manager form.

City attorney Robert LeSage discussed the various ways Dixon can change its form of government – all of which must happen through a referendum.

For example, 25 percent of the number of registered voters during the last mayoral election would need to file a petition with the city clerk to abolish the current commission form of government.

Simply abolishing the commission form would give Dixon a mayor-council form, similar to Rock Falls. This form may have an administrator by ordinance, but it would eliminate department oversight by council members.

In this form, the city clerk and treasurer are elected.

The number of council members, and whether they represent a ward or serve at large, would revert back to Dixon’s government before it adopted the commission form. LeSage did not know how Dixon was set up before then.

Abolishing Dixon’s current form also can come with a referendum to adopt the city manager form of government, which grants an administrator his or her duties by state statute. The City Council can add duties, but it may not remove them, LeSage said.

To do so, either 10 percent of the number of registered voters during the last mayoral election would need to file a petition with the circuit clerk to adopt the form, or the City Council would have to vote to put the question on the ballot.

LeSage said it is not necessary to abolish the commission form to adopt the city manager form, but he said it will be helpful for clarity.

To get rid of the city manager form of government, if it is adopted, would require another referendum.

LeSage said the City Council may determine by ordinance how many council members, whether they serve at large or represent wards, and whether the city clerk and treasurer are elected or appointed.

When asked what he thought was the best form of government to provide checks and balances, LeSage indicated the city is moving in the right direction with hiring a city administrator, and “professionalizing its government.”

The form, he said, did not contribute to Rita Crundwell’s theft; many factors allowed the former comptroller to steal nearly $54 million.

Commissioner Dennis Considine attended Wednesday’s meeting and suggested the task force schedule an evening meeting to give the public an opportunity to take part in its discussion.

Members agreed to do so.

To attend

The governmental task force will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St. The plan is to meet with a Rock Falls city administrator. If that cannot be scheduled, members will begin talking about forming their recommendation.

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

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