SOUTH BELOIT—About a dozen residents turned out Monday to voice their opinions on the city’s proposal to hire a city administrator and on an advisory referendum on today’s ballot to ban open burning in the city.
A special meeting of the city council was held in the library at South Beloit High School. The library had more space that city hall, so audience members could observe social distancing.
Mayor Ted Rehl opened the special meeting by explaining the city council was looking at the possibility of hiring a city administrator mostly to promote the city to potential businesses that may want to move here.
He said he has been trying to work with potential business owners and developers, but he admitted he does not have the knowledge or expertise to properly promote the city to these individuals.
“We’ve come to the humble understanding that you need to know what your doing. Marketing the city is a skill,” Rehl said.
Council member Tom Fitzgerald said a city administrator also will provide continuity among city leaders. He noted every four years the city council could have five new people voted into office. Then, all the knowledge and experience of the previous council is lost. A city administrator would be an employee of the city who would serve whichever council is in place at any given time.
Fitzgerald added that the city administrator would have certain authority and could make some independent decisions, but he or she would still answer to the council.
Council member Ryan Adleman said the main hope is that a city manager would promote economic development, which he believes neighboring communities are more successful at that South Beloit.
“We’re losing out day in and day out because they have someone out there banging that drum every day,” he said.
City resident Brandy Miller said he thought it would be a good idea if the city administrator lived in the city. However, some council members said the council cannot require any employee to live in the city. Rehl said, however, the council can ask that the administrator live close to the city.
“What we will stress is they need to be here,” Rehl said.
One resident asked how much a city administrator would be paid. Rehl said at this point he does not know.
City resident Duane Farnsworth said it would be a good idea to have a city administrator sign a multi-year contract.
“It would be wise for the council to have a contract. If the individual is fitting well in the community, you can rehire them. If not, you can look for someone else,” he said.
In the second topic of the special meeting, the pros and cons of open burning in the city were discussed.
A referendum is on the ballot today in South Beloit asking residents if there should be a ban on open burning of yard waste,
Ryan Adleman said a yes vote would mean the voter is in favor of banning open burning. A no vote would mean the voter wishes the practice of open burning to continue. The referendum has nothing to do with recreational fires in the city.
Some residents said they have several trees on their properties and burning yard waste is an inexpensive and efficient way to get ride of leaves and other yard waste.
Council member Ken Morse said alternatives should be looked into because open burning does present some problems.
“It does present a health concern, it presents a safety concern, it presents and environmental concern,” Morse said.
Residents asked, since the question on the ballot is an advisory referendum, would the council have another public hearing if voters approved the ban on open burning? The council agreed to hold a hearing to get more public input.