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Council supports choice, not change

City administrator expected to be hired Nov. 12

Published: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 9:10 a.m. CST

DIXON – The Dixon City Council might not support a switch to the city manager form of government, but it wants to give citizens that option.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the council unanimously approved an ordinance to place a referendum on the November 2014 general election ballot so that voters can choose the city’s form of government.

While the commissioners fully support citizens’ right to vote on the issue, they don’t necessarily support the potential change. A mayor-appointed task force had recommended the ballot question.

Commissioners Dennis Considine and Colleen Brechon said they opposed the change to establish a city manager.

“I want to thank the task force, with due respect, for everything they’ve done,” Considine said. “And I don’t want anyone to misconstrue the fact that I’m voting to put this on the ballot, that I’m any way in favor of changing the form of the Dixon city government.”

Brechon said she believed the city manager form of government gives too much control to a single person.

“It’s my strong belief in the voter process, which is why I’m willing to put my name behind this ordinance,” she said. “I’m of the belief we need a [city] administrator but not a [city] manager. I think that too much control will be in the hand of one person, which we’ve already had a bit of experience with. And I just don’t like that idea anymore.”

The governmental task force, which was appointed by Mayor Jim Burke and approved by the City Council to determine the best form of government for Dixon, released its formal recommendation in August in a document copied to the mayor and each commissioner.

The task force, which studied various forms of city government beginning in May, was established after the Rita Crundwell scandal.

The task force recommended that the City Council let citizens decide which form of government was best by asking this question on the November 2014 ballot: “Shall the city of Dixon adopt the managerial form of municipal government?”

“I don’t really have a firm position on it,” Burke said. “I really don’t.”

The mayor said he’s “fine with however it goes” and thinks Dixon residents will be taking a good, long look at both options during the next 12 months. He added that he thought it might be a good idea to have some presentations to inform residents about both options.

Commissioner Jeff Kuhn also said he’s not sure where he stands on the decision, and wants to give David Nord a year to prove himself and to see how that role fits with the city government.

Nord is expected to be hired by the City Council as Dixon’s first city administrator during a special meeting Nov. 12.

“I really think we need leadership up here – be it a manager, be it an administrator,” Kuhn said. “Right now, we’ve never had either. And we need to get some track record first. ... It’s just too early to make a call.”

Nord’s contract, which was placed on file Monday night, will be available for public review until Nov. 12, when the City Council is expected to hire him. He would start the job the next day.

Commissioner Dave Blackburn said he doesn’t think he needs to voice an opinion that might influence citizens. Instead, he said he’ll “lay low” and make his vote on Election Day.

“I’m going to remain neutral on it,” he said.

To attend

The Dixon City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at City Hall, 121 W. Second St., on the second floor in the Council Chambers, to vote on whether to hire David Nord as the city administrator.

Go to www.DiscoverDixon.org or call City Hall at 815-288-1485 for an agenda or more information.

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