Dixon Asking Voters for Input on Park District-City Merger

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A ballot question in Dixon shows the city is looking to explore research into the effectiveness of putting the park district under the city’s jurisdiction. And the park district responded with a question of their own.

The question, posed by the city, asks residents if they would be open to transferring control of the park district to the city—a question that Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr. says is non-binding and would be contingent upon more research.

“If the voters say yes, that will be the starting point for researching it and looking at it.  We’ve already done a lot of preliminary research to see whether this is something we should even consider and we think it is.  We think there are some efficiencies to be gained,” says Arrellano Jr.

Park district executive director Debra Carey says some research has already been done on the question, and she believes the move would not be cost effective for taxpayers.

“There would have to be some major changes for the city, to take over almost 1000 acres of land that isn’t even in their corporate boundaries,” Carey added.

But Mayor Arrelano Jr. believes that further studies may indicate the opposite.

“That’s what we’re looking at.  Can we be more efficient in Dixon.  And we need to research it.  I’m not here to promise people we can do it better yet.  We need to study that, but we should at least be willing to look at it,” he says.

Carey responded saying, “We can work together, but that doesn’t mean they need to take financial control and ownership of the park district.  I feel it would not be in the best interest of the citizens.”

The park district even put a different question on the ballot, asking residents if they would like to see the park district explore more partnerships for funding.

“That’s where we’re looking for dollars right now.  Not tax dollars, but private dollars or donated dollars,” says Carey.   

But Mayor Arrelano Jr. doesn’t see the dual questions as being in opposition.

“Frankly, I support both.  I don’t see them as an either or. I think the (question) that the park district put on (the ballot) you should obviously be doing, any government should be doing. And you should continue to do it up until such time as maybe the voters decide to merge the governments.”

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