While the media and citizens are pointing fingers at Dixon and throwing out accusations of folks being asleep at the switch while their comptroller allegedly helped herself to tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars, I have a different perspective to throw out there.
How did Dixon get by on less for all these years? How did Dixon keep the budgets trim when they allegedly had tens of millions of fewer dollars to spend all these years?
In 2010, I spent a whole week in Dixon for the annual Lincoln Highway Association conference. In 2007, the conference committee looked at Dixon, DeKalb, and Joliet as possibilities for hosting the conference. DeKalb did not have adequate open hotel space away from railroad tracks. Meeting space in Joliet would have been more expensive. Dixon has adequate hotel space in a quiet location, has inexpensive meeting room space, and as a bonus, it is a beautiful city along the Rock River. Leading up to the 2010 conference, I was in Dixon at least once a month for a couple of years. Business with the LHA still takes me west frequently enough that one local resident thought I lived there (the same thing happened in Franklin Grove).
Dixon somehow found money to refurbish the riverfront area and spruce up the city in time for the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. I see plenty of police cars on patrol in Dixon. The streets look good enough, even the side streets. The petunias look great in the summer–those are tended to mostly by volunteers. Dixon somehow had enough money for the fire department to turn the Rock River green for St. Patrick’s Day. Dixon has wonderful local festivals, and preserved historic buildings.
Two out of the four IL Representative 90 candidates in the March primary were from Dixon, including Tom Demmer, who won the primary.
So, how did Dixon get by on less for all these years?
While I know other small cities are looking at Dixon for what not to do, I think there are some lessons to learn about how to get by on less money that will go overlooked.