DIXON – City leaders amped up projects and partnerships during the last year and plan to keep the momentum going.
City Manager Danny Langloss and Public Works Director Matt Heckman said one of the top accomplishments was wrapping up the first year of a 2-year, $4.5 million commitment to resurfacing roads as well as sidewalk, ramp and curb improvements. That's a stark difference from last fiscal year, when no roads were resurfaced.
"We've beat all of our expectations with projects and work that's happening throughout the city," said Langloss, who became city manager about a year ago and moved Heckman into the public works position shortly after.
A major goal for Langloss was to develop a stronger, happier, more cohesive team of city staff following the last few years of city leadership turnover and the transition to a new form of government.
Heckman said they made big strides in bumping up cooperation and communication with department heads and staff, and tackled an ambitious list of projects across all departments.
"Plans are just plans until you have the right people executing them," Heckman said.
Planning is ongoing for not only next year's projects but also for future years, he said.
Work is progressing on the City Hall remodel project. The new customer service area is scheduled to be completed by January and the overall project likely will be wrapped up in March, Langloss said.
Another point of pride across the past year is working to break down government "silos" with more collaboration and information sharing with the Park District, the School District and the county, he said.
One of those partnerships is with the Park District to build a sizable splash pad at Wooden Wonderland. The district received a $200,000 anonymous donation in June, and the hope is to have it installed by June 1.
One of the challenges is keeping up with all of the infrastructure improvements needed for the city, Heckman said.
"We're moving as fast as we can, and each year, things are going to get better."
Boosting economic development is an ongoing goal, with a focus on attracting more retail businesses in the Interstate 88 corridor to generate more sales tax in the community.
Langloss said they're working to line up a handful of fast food chains and restaurants as well as pursuing the longtime goal of bringing in a hotel developer.
One of the fast food developments in the works is building an Arby's near Walmart.
A new goal is to have quarterly "listening sessions" in the community with different themes to get feedback from residents; the first forum could be as soon as next month, Langloss said.
Other goals and projects include creating a plan to cover rising pension costs, continuing to generate savings by doing more work in-house, and working on a long-term comprehensive plan for the city.
"We've implemented a 'whatever it takes' mindset, and we're stepping up and giving staff the resources they need," he said. "We have a great community, and we want to keep making it better a little bit at a time."