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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Budget Update

The City Council will be discussing budget changes at the November 1st Council Meeting. I will again be arguing for the elimination of the $54,000 Administrative Assistant position. I will be asking that a Police Investigator be hired mid way through 2006. This will have a cost of $35,000 for the 2006 budget cycle.

A Police Investigator will allow patrol officers more time on the street. This becomes critical with the development east of highway 65. Another factor is the new school. I will be stressing the need to have more police resources involved with enforcing the school zones. This will bring greater safety to our children going to and from school.

As our population continues to grow so must our police protection. Police and fire protection should be at the top of our priority list. We can not continue to see rapid residential growth without a corresponding level of safety protection. Police protection should never be in a catch up mode. Please let me know if you have any comments or concerns.

Public Hearing Sewer and Water Rates

The City Council will be holding a public hearing to establish new sewer and water rates. The rates being presented will bring back balance to these funds.

I voted for a different set of rates. The rates I voted for would have had less of an impact on seniors and low income households. These rates would also have brought balance to the funds. The difference is not dramatic but without detailed information on the impact of the new rate structure, I felt that these groups should be given the most protection possible.

The increase is needed to bring the rates inline with current expenses. This gap has been caused by the ill-advised rate reduction last year and the increase cost of operation. We can not afford to continue to run a deficit in the sewer and water fund.

I hope any and all that want to be heard on this rate change come to the City Council meeting Tuesday November 1st.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rum River Dr Lights Update

I was contacted by a manager from connexus on Tuesday. He wanted to make sure that the lights were repaired. I told him that the lights appear to be working the last few days. I also passed on the information about lights out in other parts of town. If there are any other lights out please let me know. Thank you.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Citizen Input

I am looking for citizen input on defining the future of Isanti. As many are aware we are working on a new comprehensive plan. This plan will guide the development of Isanti for the next 5 to 10 years. These are the years that will lay the foundation for generations to come.

During this period we will redesign our Main Street Business District. We will define the types of residential housing patterns. Everything from lot size and driveway width to the need, if any, for low cost housing and apartments will be considered. We will determine where we want business and industrial growth.

I want to make sure we maintain Isanti as a unique place to live and work. I dread the concept of One Cookie Cutter City after another from Blaine to Cambridge. We need to create a climate of creative thinking.

We need to provide the services and shopping opportunities our citizens need. We need to have hotels and restaurants to capture the visitor dollars generated from our extensive recreational opportunities. Our soccer fields, BMX track, park and trail system, Rodeo and Jubilee Days, Isanti Fall Music Fest and many other activities bring thousands of people to our community. We need to capture these dollars. This can be accomplished while maintaining our unique feel through the planning process.

We also need to keep distinct neighborhoods in tact. New development should not alter Isantiƃ‚’s special appeal. I am a newer resident myself. My family moved here in 2001. I am not against growth. The growth does need to pay for itself. Rapid residential growth spurs growing cost that needs to be properly budgeted.

These costs include more public works employees and police and fire protection. These come with a cost. A large portion of our city's budget is financed by development fees. As development slows in the future these cost will become a burden on city taxpayers. I am working to keep our city's budget lean and insist on a transition plan being in place when development fees taper off. I do not want to reach a day when development slows and the city tax payer is hit with an extreme property tax rate increase.

Many cities have faced this tough transition and have had to make drastic property tax increases. This may seem far into the future but it may be only a few years away.

If we plan properly these and other issues may have a smoother transition. This is where public input is so important. Our citizens have a wealth of knowledge that will have a positive impact on our decision making process. I for one will listen to your suggestions and concerns. Please contact me at george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us or 763-444-7158.

We have an incredible future ahead of us. We have added great city staff that will be able to help work through this process. Citizen input is still the most important item. I am excited about the work ahead of us. Together we can accomplish our goals and create an Isanti we will be proud to call home for generations to come.

Thank you for your input.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hillock Court

Another neighborhood will have its tranquility shattered by development. The Hillock Court neighborhood, which was first built over 20 years ago, turned out in full force Tuesday night. They laid out their case against the proposed Red Oak Development. This development would replace the cul-de-sac of Hillock Court into a through street eventually linking to Third Avenue NE. This development was originally designed to be a cul-de-sac until wetland issues arose. The developer stated a cul-de-sac would not be feasible since he would not make enough money on the project. I met with the developer and found him to be a respectable and honorable person. I disagree however with the development he is proposing.

The hardest part of my decision was the knowledge that the proposed development property needs to be cleaned up. I voted against this project due to the increased traffic and destruction of a unique neighborhood. We can not make decisions to optimize developer profits.

Hillock Court is bordered to the west by Park Brook the Elementary school to the east and by a row of trees to the north. The new road extension would in my opinion radically reduce the value of the two existing homes the road would abut. Hillock Court is also 2 feet narrower than a standard city road. This could cause safety issues if traffic does increase.

Staff stated the concern that the existing Hillock Court was in violation of the cul-de-sac ordnance. This is true. It is also true it has been in violation for more than 2 decades. We can not continually correct the poor planning decisions of the past on the backs and wallets of our residents.

I will be laying out my goals for planning in the near future. These goals will improve the planning process to avoid such issues.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Blog Vindicated

City Attorney Clark Joslin delivered an oral preliminary report on my Blog at tonight’s Council Meeting. He stated the First Amendment Freedom of Speech is a basic right. Limitations are only accepted in very narrow circumstances. He stated he found no exceptions to this right in my Blog.

Mr. Joslin further stated that there are no communications in my blog that violate dissemination of any confidential data under the Data Practices Act.

He stated that if any individual has an issue with my blog that it is a private matter and does not concern the City. He further stated that he will have his final written report at the next Council Meeting. I will update you when I receive this report.

I hope this puts this issue to rest and we can now move on as a City Council. I will continue to use my Blog to discuss my decision making process. I also will continue to update the citizens of Isanti on the issues. This Blog has been an excellent tool to communicate directly with the residents I represent. I will continue the fight to reform city government and will not be intimidated.

I want to thank all those who expressed their support of me during this process. I will update you on the rest of the Council Meeting Wednesday morning.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission recommended Alan Duff to the City Council as our new member. Mr. Duff has had a 23 year military reserve career and an M.A. in Urban Planning. Mr. Duff has also served as a Planning Commissioner for Apple Valley. He will bring great experience and expertise to Isanti's planning process.

I am extremely happy that the 2 new citizen members of the Planning Commission have all had either planning training, planning degrees or city planning employment. Mr. Duff fulfills all three of these categories. If he is approved he will be the 3rd new highly qualified Commissioner. This continues to add a depth of experience and expertise Isanti needs as we lay the foundation for the future.

Rum River Lights

I called Connexus for the 5th time today to ask how we can get the lights along Rum River Dr SW to work. They have once again stated that a work order has not been placed to fix these lights. I know City Hall staff has also called to get these lights fixed. I will be asking that the city hold payment of the service fee we pay until these lights are fixed.

We are approaching Halloween in a few weeks. This issue has to be resolved before Tricker Treaters are walking the neighborhood. This is a an issue of child safety. It is also an issue of getting the services we all pay for.

If there are other streets lights not working please let me know. I will keep you updated.

******Update*******

City Staff is getting a record of their communications with connexus. This will be used to detail these lighting issues.

Main Street Lights

I have been asked many times by many people what is going on with the lights on Main Street. They are on during the day and off at night or some on and some off. This has been and issue for over a year.

A meeting was held a month and half ago to give one last "last chance" to the contractor and manufacturer to solve this problem. As of today I have received no information on where we are in the process. My patience has finally run out. If a city can not make the lights work, then what confidence would our citizens have in anything else we do. I am as frustrated as anyone with this problem. I have asked for a plan of what to do next if/when this final "final last" chance does not work.

I guarantee people will be held responsible for this festering issue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

E-mail Updates

I have been asked how individuals may get updates of my Blog. If you would like e-mail updates to new postings or "big" issue postings please e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com. I will then add you to the confidential e-mail list. Thank you for your support.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Comprehensive Plan

Isanti is starting a new comprehensive plan. This will be a concerted effort to incorporate all levels of planning. City growth centering on residential and businesses planning, utilities, traffic flows and amenities will all need to be discussed. This is a plan that is desperately needed. The current comprehensive plan was out of date the day it was finished.

This leads to my first concern. The same organization that did the previous plan is doing the new plan. Fool us once shame on you, fool us twice shame on us. The new comprehensive plan will cost $50,000 to $100,000. If done correctly we will receive a tool that can guide us for the next decade.

If, as the last plan, not completed carefully we will have wasted tax payer money and have to start all over again. The excuse for the last plan failing was the rapid residential growth. This was stated to be a surprise. I am unimpressed by this. The City Council reviews each plat that comes before it. If there is a plan for growth in place it needs to be followed. We do not need to allow ever development that is proposed. All plans must be flexible but the guiding principles must be followed.

The discussion needs to start with one simple question. What type of city do we want Isanti to be? What type of businesses do we need to attract? What type of amenities do we want to have for our citizens? What type of housing do we need? Then we need to make sure we have a plan in place and a 3-5 year plan to have the necessary services. We need to discuss the level of services we want to provide and discuss the ongoing cost. This then finally leads to how much we need to pay in property taxes to fund these services. Each mile of road we build adds maintenance cost for each generation. Each new city hall employee increases cost every year.

A vast portion of our total city budget is funded by development fees. These fees will dry up when development slows. Unfortunately we will still have all the cost with running city government. The only way to close the gap is by reducing city staff and services or raising property taxes. A good comprehensive plan can take a slow down in development into consideration. This will allow us to make the transition to lower city revenues and ease the pressure on property tax payers.

These are simple hard truths we need to face. I encourage every citizen and business to voice their opinion and help plan the future of Isanti. We will have a brighter future if we do the work today.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Police Officer Update

I asked my fellow Council Members to reconsider adding back a police investigator starting halfway through 2006. The Council would need to trim other cost to make room for this position. The last new officer hired was in the 2004. If an officer is not added in 2006 then we will have to wait until the 2007 budget cycle. It is critical to add a police investigator to free up patrol officers. Currently patrol officers do their own investigations. This means they are not patrolling Isanti’s streets. The new school and many more new homes and businesses will be constructed on the east side of highway 65. This adds many more miles for our patrol officers.

Making sure our city continues to be a safe and secure place for our residents is my top priority. Isanti’s rapid residential growth necessitates more police protection. This is an area that can no longer be neglected. We also have a methamphetamine problem in our city and county. Isanti’s police force is working hard everyday to solve these problems.

We have a special responsibility to our Fire and Police protection. These men and women need to know that they will have all the tools necessary to do their job.

Library Update

Mr. Iverson offered to donate the land for the proposed library. This tax deductible offer was made contingent on the library being placed adjacent to is commercial property by the gas station at the corner of county highways 5 and 23.

The library construction fund has been growing from donations of all denominations. The real issue is what will be the yearly operating cost. This cost will be the responsibility of Isanti’s tax payers. I know many are very excited about the proposed library but we need to know the total true cost. A library can be a great asset to a community if it is affordable. I hope to receive information on the operating cost and update you.

Walking Bus Update

I have been receiving e-mails and phone calls on the walking school bus. I am eager to work with the many people interested in this possible solution to the school districts policy of not bussing in a 1 mile radius of a student’s school. The optimal solution would be to bus during the cold winter months and do the walking school bus during the warmer fall and spring months. The lack of busing is a school board decision. I am trying to find ways to fill the gap in service to the many concerned parents of small children. I look forward to working with all those concerned to solve this serious safety issue.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Water and Sewer Rates

The Council met tonight in open session to debate the shortfall in the sewer and water rates. The outcome is that the rates will need to be raised. This is caused by the rate reduction last year and the increased cost of an expanding city. I will be looking at keeping a low base rate for the small water users, especially Isanti's senior population. The low base rate will lead to a higher per 1000 gallon rate. This will make heavy water users pay for the water they use. This seems to be the only fair way to pay for the cities water usage.

This is a decision that is hard to make but must be done. We can not allow the water and sewer funds to run deficits. Negative net income in these funds could mean the loss of grants and low rate loans for city water and sewer improvements. We must make sure that Isanti is on firm financial ground.

I will also only vote for a rate structure that solves the structural fund problems. Any questions please let me know.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

October 3rd special meeting

Monday October 3rd the City Council will meet in special session to discuss the sewer/water rates and the preliminary budget. The sewer and water funds are running healthy cash balances but have significant structural issues. The cash balances are being increased by new construction fees. If the rapid residential growth slows as many predict then we would have significant problems. This was in part caused by last year’s rate reduction. This needs to be corrected to make sure these funds are in good financial shape. I will update you on any new information from the meeting.