About Me

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I have served the City of Isanti as Mayor since 2007. We have accomplished great things together and I look forward to building on our success. United, we move forward to a better future. You may contact me at 763-442-8749 or e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com. My website is www.georgewimmer.com

Sunday, August 28, 2005

2nd Interview for City Administrator

Monday August 29th the City Council will be conducting a second interview of Don Lorsung for the City Administrator position. Mr. Lorsung will be meeting all Department heads from 9:45 to 11:00. Mayor Apitz, City Clerk Bauer, City Attorney Joslin and I will be giving him a tour of the city at 11:15 to 12:15. This will be followed by a Public Meeting starting at 12:30 to conduct the second interview.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Planning Commission Reform

I have stated in the past that I will be working to reform Isanti's planning process. These reforms will include, but are not limited to, reviewing ordnances, establishing new criteria for tree preservation and an “Owners List”.

The ordance review will include eliminating bad and conflicting ordnances, proposing new ordnances and rewriting old ordnances to bring these up to date. Examples may include driveway and parking pad issues along with lot size issues. We should also make sure we preserve individual neighborhoods. I do not want each section of Isanti to be the same as every other section of the city. There also needs to be a review of what commercial properties should be located next to a residential neighborhood.

Tree preservation is a key issue. We can all see the effects of clear cutting acres of land then building homes only to replant hundreds of tiny trees. Many of these new trees die and will not provide the shade and landscaping value for decades to come. We need to put in place criteria to direct developers to save as much natural tree growth as possible.

The final item is the “Owners List”. I came up with the idea as I was riding along with a City of Isanti building inspector. This would be a list of items that the new home owner should be made aware of. These may include landscaping and tree requirements, fencing and home modification ordnances. This will be a list I hope to compile in the next 6 months talking with builders and home owners. This list would help better prepare new residents moving into the city of Isanti. I will be happy to hear any suggestions you may have.

Squad Car Update

I have read the police report regarding this accident. I will be asking further questions. This report seems to not be as complete as I would expect.

****update****

The report and my questions have been all answered by the Isanti Police Department. This accident has been handled in a very professional manner. Thankfully no one was hurt.

Bad Star Rising

Once again our friends at the Star have written another work of fiction. The factual issues start with the EDA budget. This is the first we have budgeted anything for the EDA. The story states that the budget was cut by $50,000. The proposed budget was cut by $20,000 leaving $30,000 in the budget. The next issue is the funding for the trail along 23. The $60,000 is sitting in a fund started last year. The $60,000 was not cut from the budget it was transferred from 2005 to 2006. This trail is a high priority for me and will be funded. Public works had no staff cut. They had one of 2 requested fulltime employees reduced to one fulltime and 2 part-time employees. Public works staff will increase by 1 fulltime and 2 part-time. The 7.8% increase was on a split vote. 3-2. Kennedy and myself voted against this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Isanti Fall Music Festival

The Isanti Fall Music Festival will be September 17th. This is a celebration of the City of Isanti. This is a free event with a car show, kids’ games and street dance with the Lamont Cranston Blues Band. The car show and kids' games start at 2p. The Street Dance starts at 7pm. I have been a supporter of this event since it started 3 years ago. This concert brings attention to out Main St businesses. My dedication to reviving our Main Street is only continues to grow. If you or anyone you know is interested in being a vendor please let me know. I hope to see everyone there

Squad Car

I have received several questions regarding the accident involving a City of Isanti Police Officer. I will be receiving a copy of the accident report soon. The accident occurred near the Elementary School building this past weekend. The Officer hit a partial opened gate. The Officer is fine but significant damage was done to the squad car. I will update after I have read the accident report.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

City Administrator Interviews

The City Council met for four hours Wednesday the 17th for the first of two City Administrator interview sessions. These sessions start at 5pm and last until 9pm.We met with three candidates and will meet again Thursday the 18th with three more. We plan to have a second round of interviews with the finalist. The public is welcome to these interviews.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Budget Update

The Isanti City Preliminary Budget was discussed tonight. The initial budget request of 17% has been reduced to a 7.8% increase. This increase is still too high. The preliminary number is the highest property taxes can be raised. This is however not a final number. The Council has to set the preliminary number before the final valuations are received from the County. This makes the process difficult at best.

One cut that would have brought the final preliminary number to a 1% increase is an Administrative Assistant. The position, including pay and benefits, is over $50,000. This position was left in by consensus of Mayor Apitz and Council Members Johnson and Larson. Council Member Kennedy and I voted against this addition. We have added a Financial Director and City Planner to the staff this year. We need to wait and see how these positions evolve before anymore positions are added.

The focus of the increases is the Public Works department. This is caused by the need to replace aging equipment and to bring staffing up to an acceptable level. We have reduced 1 fulltime request and replaced with part-time help during the summer months when mowing is at its height. The Public Works request is a direct result from the rapid residential growth we are experiencing.

The fulltime police officer requested for 2006 was also removed from the budget. This I am sure will become a greater need for the 2007 budget.

I also asked to have some more follow-up in the deficit being run in the Water and Sewer Fund. This was caused by the previous Council’s vote to change the billing formula. This has to be rectified. We can not operate at a net loss of revenues.

I believe there should be no increase in property taxes. We need to keep the budget as tight as possible every step of the way. We need to be careful of the idea that we can always cut the budget later. I think this can be dangerous. We do not need to spend all the money we raise. We should be looking for ways to reduce the property tax burden on our citizens.

I will be writing more about this process in the next few days detailing more specifics.

Monday, August 15, 2005

City Council Aug 16th, 17th and 18th

This week will be busy for the Isanti City Council. We have our regular scheduled Council meeting Tuesday August 16th.

We will be considering bids for Audio/Visual equipment, furniture, phone system and cabling for the New City Hall. These costs are well over $100,000.

The second big issue that will be discussed is the 2006 Street Projects. The west end of Main Street that intersects C.S.A.H. 23, East Main St. from Railroad Avenue to Penny Ln, Richard Ave, Elizabeth St and Broadway are part of the proposed improvements for 2006.

The third big issue will be the Proposed 2006 budget. There are many new expenditure proposals. The overall budget with all requests would increase over 30%. I have made a commitment not to raise taxes this year. We must make the new growth pay for itself. We have roughly $500,000 in new revenues at the current tax rate. This is almost a 19% increase in total revenues. If we do not balance our budget with this principle our Property Taxes will spiral out of control.

I urge people to attend this meeting to help shape the budget process.

Remember that decisions are made by those who show up.

The Council will also be meeting the 17th and 18th to interview City Administrator candidates. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the hiring process of a new City Administrator please call or e-mail.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rum River Meadows Park Build

I would like to thank the dozens of volunteers who helped with the Rum River Meadows Park build. We each gave up a beautiful Saturday to create a playground for our children. This community build has two great benefits. The first benefit is the thousands of dollars the volunteer workers save the City of Isanti. This does put more pressure on city staff however. The Park and Public Works Departments did an excellent job preparing the site and finalizing the park build. The second benefit is the ownership felt by each volunteer as they constructed the equipment. This is one more example of the community spirit that thrives in Isanti. Again I thank all the volunteers and City Staff for the great work and dedication put into making this park a reality.

Rum River Classic

The Rum River Classic is August 13th. This is a fund raising bike event. The money raised is for the Bike/Walk Trail between Isanti and Cambridge. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer at the Isanti rest stop please call me at 763-444-7158.

Budget Update

The City Council met August 8th in special session to discuss the 2006 Budget. I laid out my stance of no increase in the property tax levy. I also stated my governing philosophy that the city’s growth needs to pay for itself. This ensures that any new growth does not cause current resident’s property taxes to increase. The initial budget, with all department requests, would be a 37.32% increase over 2005. The 2005 budget is $2,677,601 and the initial 2006 is $3,676,956.

The good news is that the Local Government Aid (state aid) has increased by $112,227. The city budget has also increased from the new homes that were purchased last year. This growth has slowed however but will rise once again with the East Highway 65 development.

Each City Department has made their “wish list” request. Public Works has the most requests totaling $280,000. This is due to the need to replace several old pieces of equipment. Public Works is also requesting two fulltime employees. One of these fulltime positions may be offset by part time help during the busy summer months. This has not been done in Isanti before but can allow the fulltime employees to do other work while the mowing of parks, trails and city land is done by part time help at a lower rate, thus saving the city money.

The Police Department has requested one more full time officer and another squad car.

City Administration has asked for an administrative assistant to help several departments with paper work and phone calls.

This is just the beginning of this process. The final numbers will need to be much less. I will be providing more information in the next few days on specific request and the needs of the city.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August 3rd Council Update

The August 3rd City Council meeting had a few heated moments centering on the issue of Brian Iverson’s continued membership on the EDA. Council Member Johnson acknowledges he has a conflict of interest since he is doing work for Mr. Iverson. Council Member Johnson did however continue to speak on Mr. Iverson’s behalf during the discussion. This is a violation of the City of Isanti Conflict of Interest Policy. I question him on this and he continued to speak. I stated the following reasons for my objections to his continued EDA membership:

1. Iverson is developing large tracts of residential and commercial property giving him tremendous financial and political power in Isanti.

2. As an EDA member Iverson can steer the city into buying parcels of land.

3. He is unable to clearly understand what a conflict of interest is. The point was made in the joint session meeting of July 19th that he would know when a conflict arises. Two examples from a recent EDA meeting: According to the EDA minutes of June 28th he was intent on acting as an agent for the city in land negotiation. According to the EDA minutes of June 28th he wanted the city to buy the golf course so it is not developed. Iverson owns considerable land abutting the golf course. Leaving the golf course as is would reduce competition for his residential development. Residential property abutting a golf course general has an increased value.

4. As an EDA member Iverson has unequaled access to council members and city staff.

5. As a member of an appointed body Iverson has been given the cities stamp of approval.

6. This position puts all others who are in competition with Iverson at a dramatic disadvantage.

7. The City of Isanti should show no favoritism to any developer who currently has projects before the city.

8. Finally the idea that the largest developer in Isanti is also contracting with a City Council Member is in itself a troubling issue.

Mayor Apitz and Council Member Sue Larson also defended Mr. Iverson’s continued EDA Membership. After the debate I motioned to remove Mr. Iverson from the EDA. Council Member Kennedy seconded the motion. The Mayor and Council Member Larson voted against with Johnson abstaining. The vote of 2-2 means the motion fails. Mr. Iverson will continue on the EDA

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Park Build

We will be doing the Rum River Meadows Park build August 6th. The letters went out and the papers have published information. We have a good start of volunteers but could always use more. Here is what we need from the letter that went out to local residents.

City of Isanti Citizen-

The City of Isanti Park & Recreation Department is requesting your help! We are constructing a new park in the southwest corner of our City in between South Passage and Rum River Drive SW called “Rum River Meadows Park”. This park will have a 2 to 5 year old play equipment, 5 to 12 year old play equipment, picnic tables, swings, swinging bench, and lots of fun. The Community Build for Riverside Park is August 6, 2005 starting at 7am, hopefully ending at 3pm (ish). We are building rain or shine!

The following are ways that you can help:
- We need at least 20 volunteers.
Volunteer shifts:
-7am to 11am
-11am to 3pm
Types of volunteers:
-Building the structure.
-1st Aid, refreshment, sign in and information area
-The day before (08.06.05) we need help unloading the truck and inventorying the equipment; and digging holes.
-Equipment (please mark your name on your tools!!):
-wheelbarrow. -3/8 inch drive sockets & wrenches (also 9/16 & 1/4inch)
-shovels -tape measures
-hand levels -step ladders
-vise grips -utility knives
-cordless power drill -pitchforks
-generator -power saw
-skid loader with an auger bit
If you can let me know what you plan to bring, it will help in planning.

Refreshments, Snacks and Lunch will be provided for the volunteers as a way to thank you.

Please let me know if you are able to help, loan equipment, etcetera to help this day become spectacular. To call: 444.7158 or e-mail: Council Member George Wimmer george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us, or Myself at 444.5512 cvita@ci.isanti.mn.us.