DIXON – Studying the best form of government for the city and coming up with recommendations for its future did not come free.
Dixon's governmental task force spent about $5,837.78 in legal fees, according to documents received from a public records request.
The panel met from May to August; it requested the City Council put a question on the November 2014 ballot asking citizens to adopt the city manager form of government, among other recommendations.
The council has not acted on those recommendations just yet.
Mayor Jim Burke was the lone council member to say he will vote in favor of putting the city manager question on the ballot, while the other four said they will take more time to study the requests.
A vote from the City Council is not needed until August 2014 for the city manager question to make the ballot.
At the task force's initial meeting May 1, the mayor said he budgeted $1,000 for travel reimbursement or any out-of-pocket expenses for the seven-member volunteer panel.
Of that amount, nothing was spent. Guests of the task force, which included public officials from Sterling and Rock Falls, took care of the travel bill themselves.
The mayor also told the task force to utilize the city's attorney to answer any questions its members may have had regarding government or legal questions in their study.
That's where the task force tallied $5,837.78 in fees, with $4,577.78 coming in July and August.
The city budgeted $80,000 for legal fees in its 2013 budget and $130,000 in 2014.
The city's attorney, Rob LeSage, attended three meetings to answer questions for the panel.
Most of the legal expenses came from research and fact-finding, according to legal bills. The city's attorney was asked to supply handouts for the task force detailing the Illinois Municipal Code regarding municipal governments, share information on the Open Meetings Act, and answer any other questions the panel had regarding their study.
These costs were necessary for the study, Burke said.
"I didn't know how much it would come out to in the end, but I wanted the task force to have access to the city's attorney to get all the information they needed to do this thing right," Burke said. "I think that's money well spent, and answers many of the questions that would have come up one way or the other with this thing."
The task force was mindful of not spending any of the $1,000 budgeted for travel, Chairwoman Marilyn Coffey said.
The Dixon City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St., in the council chambers on the second floor.
For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings, and more information, go to www.discoverdixon.org or call 815-288-1485.