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Money-saving merger up for discussion

Created: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:20 p.m. CDT

DIXON – Members of Dixon Tourism, Main Street and the Riverfront Commission will meet Thursday to discuss combining forces in a move that could save the city about $28,400 by Main Street estimates.

Two members from each organization plus city commissioners Jeff Kuhn and Dennis Considine will participate in a roundtable at City Hall, moderated by Mayor Jim Burke. Public comment will be taken.

A few attempts at such a merger have failed, including one last spring.

The idea, presented by Dixon Main Street, is a tourism/Main Street/Riverfront hybrid that could save $14,000 in donations to Main Street and $14,400 in Riverfront staff fees.

It would keep current Riverfront contracted employees as well as Dixon Tourism office staffing. Main Street's executive director would advocate for all three groups on a full-time basis. The current boards would be maintained as Main Street committees.

That's the idea being pitched Thursday, but others are invited to share their own ideas of what might and might not work.

"Our hope is to combine resources, whether that be financial, volunteers, office space, whatever you can combine for the benefit of the community," said Josh Albrecht, Main Street's executive director. "We want to make sure we move in a direction that's best for Dixon."

Riverfront Chairman Larry Reed drafted a management implementation strategy earlier this month. In it, he asked Riverfront members to think about transferring all event operations to Main Street by 2014, coordinating all activities with Tourism and expanding the Main Street board to have an oversight panel with a member from each of the three entities.

Long-term goals to build a boat dock and a pedestrian bridge over the Rock River have come to a standstill, Reed said, because the commission has had to focus on raising enough money to pay maintenance costs.

Tourism President Vicky Turner said its board members met earlier this month to hash out their own ideas, and determined that each entity has a different mission statement.

"I told our board to approach this with an open mind," Turner said. "Each group has a different goal or a different reason why it was created. It's important we come up with a list of goals and challenges. I told our board to keep a list to share."

Burke said the main goal is to agree on a vision and go from there.

"We have to know where we see something like this going, before we can figure out what it can be," Burke said. "(Thursday) will be about the groups talking about the kinds of things that could come together."

To attend

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in City Hall Council Chambers, 101 W. Second St. Go to www.discoverdixon.org or call 815-288-1485 for an agenda or more information.

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