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Is living in town an absolute?

Area mayors have different ideas

Published: Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – City officials want their likely new administrator, David Nord, to live inside city limits by 2016.

Many city governments have similar requirements.

Morrison, for example, has required its administrators to reside in the city.

Barry Dykhuizen, who started as administrator last month, was given 6 months to move to Morrison. He has already done so.

“He found a house he really likes and made his decision,” Mayor Everett Pannier said. “We just think it sends a better message to citizens if their administrator, who is making decisions about the city, lives in the city. He’s experiencing the same things as everyone else.”

In Dixon, the City Council is expected Tuesday to choose Nord as its first administrator. He will have until Jan. 1, 2016, to establish his “principal residency” in Dixon’s city limits, according to his proposed contract.

Mayor Jim Burke said Commissioner Dennis Considine proposed that requirement as part of the contract. The mayor has favored such rules before.

“Sometime back, I was pushing the idea that all city employees needed to live in the city,” Burke said. “My reason was that city real estate taxes help pay for police, firemen and other employees. We have roughly half of the city employees living outside city limits.”

He conceded, though, that practical considerations come into play. For instance, the city’s finance director, Paula Meyer, lives on a farm outside city limits, where her husband makes his livelihood, Burke said.

“It would be problematic to have them move off the farm and into the city,” he said.

The council rejected the mayor’s idea.

In Dixon, the police chief is the only administrator now required to live in the city. Nord doesn’t seem to have a problem with the residency requirement, the mayor said.

“That’s our policy, if you call it that,” Burke said. 

Sterling’s manager, Scott Shumard, lives inside city limits, but Mayor Skip Lee doesn’t think a requirement is needed.

“I’m more concerned with the job a person does,” he said. “If we had a manager who lived in Naperville, that would limit his ability to be a part of the city. But if he lived [just outside city limits], that would be a different thing.”

Most city managers, he said, want to live in their communities. 

“It gives them a flavor of what’s going on,” Lee said. 

Lee also said police officers and firefighters should live within a short drive to the city.

“If all our firefighters lived in Rochelle,” the mayor said, “that would be too far.”

Rock Falls officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

To attend

The Dixon City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St., to vote on hiring David Nord, Cherry Valley's former longtime administrator. He would be Dixon's first administrator.

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

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