Economic development key for Oak Brook manager
Oak Brook Village Manager Dave Niemeyer
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:46PM
OAK BROOK— With April municipal elections approaching, we sat down with village managers to ask about issues facing their community. David Niemeyer has been village manager in Oak Brook since 2007. He has worked in local government for about 25 years.
Q. Can you briefly describe the top three issues Oak Brook faces?
A. I would say right now, certainly like every other community, economic development and redevelopment.
We have a rather unique situation here where we partner with the Chamber of Commerce. We’re very proactive, and that’s something that’s become more the case recently. Ten years ago, there wasn’t much done to be proactive, but there’s a lot of competition now, with the city and other suburbs, in terms of bringing new businesses here.
We just finished our first economic development brochure. We have something we started about three years ago called a Rapid Response Team. When a business is interested in coming to town, we put on a presentation as one group.
Another issue is something we’re now addressing with our new residential enhancement committee.
We’re an older community. Our population dropped almost 10 percent in our last census, and our average age is 55. We have a lot of good things to bring young families here, but not enough people know about it. We’re planning to do more marketing.
The third issue is dealing with a new environment of reduced revenues from years ago. We have a smaller staff, and we’re always continuing to look for ways to run more efficiently.
Q. Given the economy, how would you describe Oak Brook’s fiscal situation?
A. We’re in excellent fiscal condition. When the revenues went down we made corresponding cuts. We do rely on sales tax, and our sales tax has rebounded some, although it’s not what it was at one time. We have healthier reserves than before, but we always have to be cautious because sales tax can go up and down. More than 50 percent of our operating budget is based on sales tax.
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting Oak Brook?
A. The pension crisis, I think, is the underpinning of the state’s financial crisis. We want our state to get fiscally healthier. The appearance of the state of Illinois is that we can’t address big issues. That doesn’t help the business environment. We have a great local business environment here; that’s probably the one negative in a lot of our business people’s minds — that we’re in Illinois.
Q. Do you think Oak Brook is doing a good job conducting its business transparently?
A. Yes. We have really made extra efforts to get stuff available to the public, to put things on our website. (Assistant Village Manager) Blaine (Wing) and I, as well as the board, are very accessible to residents. We’re a small community here. We’re very transparent in the work that we do.