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Local

Council creates assistant city manager title; Dixon public works director in line for the job

Mayor hesitant to create extra layer of bureaucracy

DIXON – The City Council is looking to give the title and responsibilities of an assistant city manager to its new public works director.

The council passed an ordinance Monday establishing an assistant city manager. It’s not a new position, but more so a designation to create a clear chain of command, City Manager Danny Langloss said.

The title is meant to be attached to either the public works director, finance director, fire chief or police chief, although the ordinance says the person could be chosen from the city’s pool of department heads, Langloss said.

It’s not official yet, but the title is earmarked for Public Works Director Matt Heckman.

Heckman, the city’s former water department manager, moved into the public works position in the interim following the resignation of Terry Weter in late August.

Heckman, 47, has worked for the city for 26 years and said he’s excited to move the department forward as well as to work on additional city projects.

“It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working with the City Council and city staff in a different capacity,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”

He’s the city’s third public works director in 2 years; Weter was in the position for about 10 months and Tim Ridder resigned before him after about 9 months on the job.

Heckman was slated to be sworn in as assistant city manager Monday, but it’s been pushed back to next month because it wasn’t properly listed on the meeting’s agenda.

He will be responsible for filling in when Langloss isn’t around and also will head other city projects and initiatives, like the Brownfields Redevelopment Advisory Committee , which is tasked with finding the best use for a $300,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant the city received in May.

General Foreman Matt Huyett was named the new water department manager last week, and Cameron Magne replaced Huyett as general foreman in the department Monday.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. was against the assistant city manager ordinance, saying it could create a separation between the city manager and the department heads, if not now, then in the future.

“This is potentially putting another layer of bureaucracy, depending on how it’s implemented,” Arellano said.

The council also was passing a big change without having much information beforehand, he said.

In the city-manager form of government, an assistant city manager is usually a separate position in larger cities, and the job description normally calls for the person to supervise department heads and focus on internal matters and special projects so the city manager can work on other operations.

Langloss said he saw it as a minor change that won’t cost the city anything because the title doesn’t include a pay raise, and it recognizes the value that Heckman brings to the city.

“I think it gives us the best chance to be successful as a team,” he said.

Councilman Ryan Marshall said the council has larger matters to focus on, like a backlog of road improvements.

“I’m not worried about a title.”

NEXT MEETING

The City Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

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

THE ORDINANCE

The new assistant city manager ordinance reads:

"There is hereby established the office of assistant city manager. The assistant city manager may be appointed, and may be removed, from time to time by the council with the advice of the city manager. The assistant city manager shall be selected from among the department heads and superintendents of the city. The assistant city manager shall have such duties and responsibilities as may be assigned by the city manager and this code."

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