Northbrook manager reports steady course
Northbrook- Richard Nahrstad, village manager, Northbrook is also an avid music fan. | Joe Cyganowski~ For Sun Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2012 10:59AM
NORTHBROOK — Northbrook Village Manager Richard Nahrstad reports that the town is continuing on a steady course despite challenging times.
He talked about how the village is weathering the changing economic and social climate in response to questions also presented to village managers throughout the area.
Q. Describe the top three issues Northbrook faces.
A. “Infrastructure, development and senior services … We just completed our storm water management plan last year, and the board now has $20 million of storm water projects that need to be implemented over the next seven to 10 years.
“Another priority is general development, which is starting to pick up now. The 14-plus acre site at the northwest corner of Skokie and Dundee has been sold to a developer. We anticipate that it will be a mixed use site of residential and commercial.
“As far as downtown, the block with Caribou (1300 block of Shermer Road) may be redeveloped toward the train station.
“We need more emphasis on senior services, both public and private. More seniors will be staying in their homes longer, so the Senior Service Commission is looking at what services they may need.”
Q. Given the economy, how would you describe Northbrook’s fiscal situation?
A. “Northbrook adjusted well to the downturn in the economy and is just starting to see the light of day. We now do quarterly meetings looking at what’s happening, what is being spent, what might need adjustments and what the local economic conditions are. We track vacancies. For the latest bond issue, we have received a ‘Triple A’ from Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s. Standard and Poor’s also does a separate rating on the financial management of the community, and we’re one of only a handful with a rating of ‘strong,’ which means our financial processes are very well integrated.”
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting Northbrook?
A. “Overall, the pension crises is having a chilling effect on the entire state. Northbrooks’ police and fire have local pensions governed by state statue. The rest of our employes have the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and that is not one of the state pension plans called into question. IMRF funds are governed by the state, but IMRF is well funded and doing OK. They are now two-tiered, so those who come on now have less benefits. But we’re still funded at about 70-75 percent range in both, which is doing well.”
Q. What is Northbrook doing to promote economic development?
A. “We just had a commercial filmed to encourage people to dine and shop in Northbrook, and commercials developed for trade shows, where we try to attract businesses … The Dundee and Skokie site developers first heard about the property by visiting a booth at a trade show. Also, we try to work with manufacturing and industrial brokers to understand their needs.”
Q. Do you think Northbrook is doing a good job conducting its business transparently?
A. “I think we do a good job on transparency, and a much better job than we used to do. Our financial reports are on line. People can take a look at our finances in a much more user-friendly way. In addition, we have our treasurer’s report and our budget online, as well as salaries and benefits. Even our general ledger, all the bills we pay, is online. The more transparent we are and the more we put out there, the more people can be confident there are no shell games being played.”