“Over the past 10 years, the City of Lake Elsinore has doubled in population. In 2007, Lake Elsinore was the third fastest growing city in the state and the second fastest growing city in the County of Riverside,” Brady shares. “Diversified residential, commercial and industrial development has provided new housing opportunities, increased revenues and a variety of job opportunities at all levels.”
However, there have been some challenges for Brady, 51, who has been the city manager since February 2005.
“One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with the current economic conditions. Balancing declining revenues while trying to maintain high quality service levels to the community has been the biggest challenge. This is compounded by the fact that cities have to adopt a balanced budget each year while the state lawmakers are ‘borrowing’ or taking local revenues to balance their budget,” he says.
Due to the declining economy and a reduction in revenues, Lake Elsinore has also had to reduce its budget. Fortunately, the City Council had the foresight to create a healthy Supplemental Revenue Account or rainy day fund during the high revenue years. This fund has been tapped into to minimize the reduction of services, Brady says.
For example, he says city employees have pitched in and agreed to take a pay reduction in the form of furlough days and have forgone pay increases in order to avoid layoffs and reduction in services.
However, Brady along with dedicated residents, community leaders, business people and the City Council, continues to make Lake Elsinore a better place to work and live.
In fact, its motto is: “The Dream Extreme,” but is it also a dream job, too for Brady?
“I have always found the work to be exciting and challenging. Anyone who thinks a job is a dream job is probably focusing primarily on the positive aspects of the position. To me, a dream job takes hard work and dedication,” Brady says. “I truly enjoy the work and the accomplishments that come along with being the city manager for Lake Elsinore.”
As for its snappy motto, Brady says, ‘The Dream Extreme’ logo and branding campaign has been “extremely” successful for the city.
“The Dream Extreme brand has exceeded our expectations and has been embraced by the community. It has received endorsements from the business and development community, as well. The logo and branding incorporate elements of Lake Elsinore’s historic past, its natural resources, and its limitless future,” he explains. “Lake Elsinore’s recreational opportunities are almost limitless ranging from camping, hiking, water skiing, boating, fishing, skydiving, hang gliding, soaring, motocross riding, and golfing, to attending a professional baseball game. The unique part of this is that all of these activities take place within just two or three miles of each other.”
Why It Works
But besides all of the recreational activities that Lake Elsinore offers, there are other things going on besides good ol’ R & R. Of course, Brady does have some advice for making a city run a little smoother: Communication.
“The best advice I can provide is to communicate, communicate and communicate some more,” he says. “The communication needs to be clear, concise and honest with each of your City Council members on a daily basis. Use whatever method is best for them, in-person, telephone, or e-mail … Put yourself in their shoes and provide information that you would need and want as an elected official. Provide updates and information before they read about it in the newspaper or hear it from the public. They need to be informed and kept up-to-date and, as a city manager, you need listen to know what they have to say and what is important to them.”
He adds that he does indeed have a very good working relationship with the Lake Elsinore City Council.
“Since many city councils consist of five members, I have often heard jokingly that a city manager does not need good math skills and only needs to be able to count to three in order to survive,” he laughs. “I don’t share that philosophy and believe that an effective and successful city manager must be able to count to five. It is important to consider the needs of each council person.”
A Dedicated CM
As city manager, Brady has also been able to build a team of dedicated employees that work efficiently and effectively together.
“This team approach, which includes the elected officials, has helped to make the Lake Elsinore City government open and transparent. We have been able to improve services to our residents, business owners, developers and visitors as they are all customers of the city,” he says.
The majority of Lake Elsinore’s revenues are generated from sales and property taxes, Brady says. Major retail shopping centers with big box uses and auto dealerships have located in the city adjacent to the I-15 Freeway. Several areas of the city, including the downtown area, still have Mom and Pop businesses, he says. A comprehensive Master Plan for the Historic Downtown area has also been prepared. The Master Plan will provide design standards, designate specific land uses and identify the steps necessary to encourage development to move forward while maintaining the historic significance of the area. The downtown area has several outstanding and unique restaurants that are family-owned and operated, Brady mentions.
“The City of Lake Elsinore is 121 years of age and it seems to get better with each passing year. We have a tremendous amount of opportunity and beauty in this region and a vision for the future of Lake Elsinore. We recognize the need to preserve the natural beauty of this area while accommodating and planning for growth over the next 20 years. The lake is our jewel that continues to shine brighter every day. The water quality has improved tremendously and the fishing is the best it has ever been,” he says.
The writer, Debbie L. Sklar is a 20-plus year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. She is a regular contributor to PublicCEO.com and may be reached via e-mail at