Dane Bragg had just completed the draft of his city's budget when it came time to pack up and head to Buffalo Grove.
His first task in the village? Help create its next budget.
Bragg, who is Buffalo Grove's new village manager, assumed the position Sept. 7. Since then, he's been getting up to speed on the components of Buffalo Grove's budget, which is now being drafted.
"Our revenues just aren't improving and obviously our expenses just continue to go up," he said. "My position is, everything's on the table in this economic climate. We have to be open and communicative because it might lead to better solutions."
Maintaining a diverse revenue base will be critical in the coming years, said Bragg, who added while the recession is what's making headlines, he believes people's spending habits will remain altered long after the economy improves.
"We have to make sure that all of our revenue isn't reliant on consumer spending behavior," he said.
Other goals, he said, are to ensure the village has a strong organizational structure and to address "anything, essentially, that we can do to strengthen Buffalo Grove as a top tier northwest suburb."
Working toward that goal is Bragg's job, but as a new resident of the village he also has a vested interest in achieving it. Bragg, his wife, Tracy, and their 3-year-old son, Wade, are now settling into their new home.
He said they were enticed by the size of the village, the quality of its schools, the many parks and cultural opportunities in the area. "The village government is stable," he added. "It looked like an opportunity for everybody."
"My wife and I have had our sights set on the metro area for awhile. It was always kind of there in the back of our minds as someplace we might go," added Bragg, who for the last three years served as city manager in Galesburg, a town of about 30,000 residents situated in between the Quad Cities and Peoria. Before that, he was the assistant city manager for Decatur.
While in Galesburg, Bragg was active with a number of organizations, including the YMCA board. He said he plans to seek ways in which he can similarly contribute to the Buffalo Grove community.
"I think it's beneficial to have that relationship with the community you manage," he said.
"So far, we really like it. It's big enough that we have a lot of opportunities around us, but it's small enough to have that community feeling. Coming from downstate, that was important to us," he said.
"We're very excited to be here and really appreciate the opportunity," he added. "I look forward to getting to know some of the residents more and helping out in any way we can."
Bragg, who said he has reviewed videotapes of Village Board meetings since early May, attended his first board meeting in his new role this month.
"I think overall all the board members have the best interests of Buffalo Grove at heart. I am seeing some passionate discussions because there seem to be divergent views. But the board is working to make Buffalo Grove the best place it can be," he said.
Bragg was selected from a pool of more than 100 candidates. The Village Board worked with a consulting firm to narrow the field down to seven before selecting Bragg, who holds a bachelor's degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois, an MBA from Millikin University and an advanced certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. He replaces Bill Brimm, who retired this summer after 32 years with the village — the last four as village manager.
Village President Elliott Hartstein told trustees this month that Bragg "hit the ground running" when he arrived. "I know he'll be doing an outstanding job," he said.