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Merger proposal presented to Dixon City Council

City administrator supports co-op; commissioner wary of 3-year deal

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

DIXON – A formal proposal for the merger between Dixon Main Street and the Dixon Riverfront Commission could be given to the city council during its next meeting.

Main Street Executive Director Josh Albrecht and Mike Venier, vice president of the Main Street board of directors, gave a presentation to the Dixon City Council on Monday night about how the proposed merger would work.

Main Street’s goal will be to have a formal proposal ready to be given to the city council Feb. 17, Albrecht said.

The proposed merger, a 3-year contract between the city and Main Street, would include Main Street absorbing the Riverfront Commission’s responsibilities, as well as creating a new position for an events and marketing coordinator. Main Street requested that the city contribute $15,000 annually for that new position. Main Street would match that or possibly exceed it, Albrecht said.

Main Street suggested that the Riverfront Commission could still be kept – if the city wanted – to serve as an expert commission, similar to the History Preservation Commission, Albrecht said.

In the proposal, Main Street would take over responsibilities for marketing, maintaining and operating Heritage Crossing, in addition to its work to develop and promote the downtown.

Main Street would give quarterly presentations to the city council, in addition to regular contact with City Administrator David Nord.

In the proposal, John Groshans, who is currently contracted by the Riverfront Commission to maintain Heritage Crossing, would instead be contracted by Main Street. Groshans would continue his responsibilities on the riverfront, but also extend the custodial duties to the downtown area, Albrecht said.

Groshans had requested an increase from $14,000 a year to $16,000 year for the additional work, said Police Chief Danny Langloss, who served on the task force that recommended that merger.

That position would be paid for from the city’s riverfront account, which Main Street would raise funds for by selling engraved bricks along the riverfront, Albrecht said, but would cost the city about $65,000 a year if it wasn’t contracted out.

It would take Main Street about a year to determine the best practices for running both downtown and the riverfront as a unified organization, Venier said. So the real progress and benefit to the merger might not be seen until the second and third year of the contract.

Commissioner Colleen Brechon was concerned about entering a 3-year contract and contributing $15,000 a year without seeing specifics about the benefits or increased events or exposure for the riverfront that would result from the new position.

“I’m not quite sure I’m on board, because I think that Main Street is getting a lot of money from the city of Dixon, and you’re asking for more,” she said. “There are a lot of organizations out there that would love to just start up a new position and and ask us for $15,000.”

In a memo to the City Council dated Jan. 31, Nord supported the merger for, among other reasons, costs savings and promoting the downtown TIF district.

The risk for the city is reduced, Nord said Monday night, because a single event can bring between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on size, in sales tax revenue the city wouldn’t otherwise see.

“Just from a money standpoint, I have no fear of the fact that this money will be realized,” he said.

While $15,000 a year isn’t a significant portion of the city’s budget, it was still a lot of money, Brechon said, and she wanted to see more specifics about what the new position would add.

Among the ideas Main Street was considering for the riverfront, Albrecht said, was a miniature golf outing or a soda fest, similar to a beer or wine fest, but family-friendly.

Main Street would also review the contracts for weddings or other events on the riverfront to maximize revenue and efficiency, Venier said, which is something that couldn’t be fully realized until the second year of the contract.

In other action

The City Council approved an ordinance that changed part of its budget process from an appropriations system to a budget system for financial planning and management.

The appropriations system lets the city allocate the maximum it could spend for a project, Mayor Jim Burke told Sauk Valley Media earlier this month, while the budgeting system lets the city allocate what it expects the cost to be.

The City Council also approved the contract between Dixon Tourism and Midwest Entertainers Inc. for four musical tributes, which will be fundraisers to help build the President Ronald Reagan Lifeguard Statue at Lowell Park. 

The city will unveil the proposed design for the statue during a press conference at City Hall on Thursday.

Next meeting

The Dixon City Council next meets at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 11 for a budget workshop at City Hall, 121 W. Second St., on the second floor in the Council Chambers.

The City Council's next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday Feb. 18 at City Hall.

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

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