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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Comp Plan Kickoff and City Hall Tour

There will be a tour of City Hall on December 8th at 6:30pm. This will be followed at 7pm by a kicked off of the New Comprehensive Plan Process. Refreshments will be provided. I hope everyone that can make this important meeting will be there. This new Comprehensive plan will be Isanti's road map for the future. This meeting will last roughly 2 hours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Playground Update

I met with superintendent Novak this morning to discuss the playground issue. The School District has started the process of getting quotes for equipment. I offered my help in this process. I also mentioned a number of cost savings that could help move this project forward. We discussed the steps moving forward and the Districts time table. I will be waiting to receive an updated time table next month. I will update you when I receive this information.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Playground update

Mr Novak, School District Superintendent, has extended an invitation to discuss this issue. I am working to set-up a meeting to resolve this issue. I will keep you updated.

Giving Thanks

I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things in my life. I am thankful I have no fear of want. I am thankful for my incredible wife, son and daughter. I am thankful for the privilege to serve the Citizens of Isanti.

I am also thankful for the people I have met in the 4 1/2 years I have lived in Isanti. I want to point out 5 individuals that have through their tremendous efforts made the Greater Isanti Community richer.

The first two are Irene Bauer and Jill Reller. Ms. Bauer has through her tireless efforts, at many different city positions, brought dignity, efficiency and grace to city government. Ms. Bauer’s most recent extraordinary service to Isanti was as Interim City Administrator. She often put in 12 and 14 hour days. This is government service at its finest.
Jill Reller has given her time and talents to many charitable efforts. Ms Reller can always be counted on to help those in need. She is truly a gift to Isanti.

I would like to thank the next three Grand Gentlemen, John Schlagel, Bill Carlson and Joe Crocker. All three bestow of their time, talent and treasure as if from a font of perpetual giving. Their individual acts of selflessness are to numerous to mention. I have seen first hand their tireless efforts in the face of almost insurmountable odds to better Isanti County.

These are but a few examples of the numerous individuals that bless our community. I believe we should take the time to thank the many people that make life better for us all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Fire District Update

I am writing this letter to my friends and neighbors in Athens, Bradford, Oxford, Spencer Brook, Stanford, Isanti Townships and my fellow City of Isanti Citizens. The Isanti Fire Department is being transformed into a Fire District Department. This Fire District includes the previous mentioned Townships and the City of Isanti. I strongly support this transformation as it gives complete responsibility and authority to the Fire District.

The issue I have is the current agreement gives one vote per Township and City. This gives The City of Isanti 1 vote out of 7 or 14% of the total. This may seem to be a fair distribution of power, but it is not. During 2005, Isanti’s share of the budget was 28%. As Isanti grows our share of the budget will grow. I do not want to see the day when Isanti is paying 40% to 50% of the total budget, yet has no true control over how the money is spent.

This arrangement could see four of the Townships, with less than 20% of the budget contribution, control 100% of the expenditures in the near future. Currently, the four smallest contributors’ portion of the budget is 37%. This is not fair representation.

I offer the compromise solution of weighted votes in fiscal matters and a 1 vote per entity for all other matters. This would mean in the current situation the City of Isanti, which pays 28% of the budget, would have 28 votes out of 100 for fiscal matters whereas Oxford Township, which pays 2.37% of the budget, would receive 2 votes. During a vote for Fire Chief or other officers, each entity would receive one vote each.

We must reach a fair and flexible agreement that will stand the test of time. I, as a representative of the Citizens of Isanti, must make sure Isanti does not lose authority over its expenditures. The proposed agreement mandates that each entity must levy taxes to pay their share of the expenses. This is fair so long as each entity has proper representation regarding expenditures. The proposed Fire District is to be discussed at the individual Township and City Council Meetings. The proposal is intended to go into effect January 1, 2006. It is critical every member of the Fire District has authority that is equal to their financial responsibility. I will not support this agreement as written.

Thank you for your time and if you have any questions or comments please contact me at 763-444-7158 or george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

November 15th Council Meeting Update

Last night’s Council Meeting had two contentious topics of debate.

The first was the street improvement Public Hearing. The controversy revolved around the Richard Avenue neighborhood. Sewer improvement, sidewalks and the extension of Richard to Main Street were proposed. The sewer improvement is needed to replace old clay sewer lines that have the potential to breakdown. The other two issues however would destroy the character of this tranquil community.

This neighborhood and several others in this section of Isanti were originally designed to a rural standard. This means the roads are narrower than normal city streets. This section of town also has beautiful mature tree growth. Side walks would erode away the usable land of each home owner. The sidewalks would also have the potential of destroying current trees. If some of the trees are saved, their root systems have a chance to destroy the sidewalks. I was able to successfully argue that sidewalks were not needed in this neighborhood.

The last issue is the extension of Richard to Main Street. This has the potential in the coming years to add a heavy traffic load through Richard’s narrow street. The potential of increased traffic is created with the possible Hotel construction and other businesses locating at the east end of Main Street. I am hopeful this needed development will occur. I am against the connection of Richard and the extra traffic this development will cause these residents. Richard loops to a Highway 65 access. People will naturally flow to the easy 65 exit.

I ask my fellow Council members to rethink their decision to extend Richard. We need to keep unique neighborhoods in tact. We have a great deal of new cookie cutter construction. Let’s keep some of Isanti’s distinct character alive for future generations to enjoy.

The second controversial topic was the proposed Clark Construction project west of Fifth Avenue and south of Spirit Brook. This area had been previously zoned R2 single family homes. Unfortunately the City Council on a vote of 2-1 approved a rezone to R3. This puts the possibility of 8 unit buildings in an area of single family homes. The rezone was requested by Clark Construction to maximize the lands value.

I have voted against the rezone of this project twice---once at Planning Commission and once in City Council. I voted against the preliminary plat twice----once at Planning Commission and once in City Council. This type of housing is not compatible with single family homes.

The issue came at last nights Council Meeting when Mr. Clark had his Attorney lecture the Council on how we had to vote for this project or face legal action we would surely lose. I was disgusted by this strong arm tactic. I will not allow my vote to be coerced in such a fashion. I have and always will vote my conscience. I can not allow the threat of legal action take the City Council’s Sovereignty away.

The final vote was 2-2 which means the proposed plat failed to be approved. Council Member Kennedy and I voted against and Council Members Johnson and Larson voted in favor. Mayor Apitz had a conflict of interest and had to abstain.

The Council heard an update on the Central business District Revitalization Project. This project is near and dear to my heart. This district encompasses the area in and around Main Street. This project has the potential to transform this district into a thriving business community. Main Street is the heart of Isanti. We need to maintain a strong commitment to rebuilding the business community along this corridor.

The last item I wish to discuss is the proposed Fire District. I am in favor of this action so long as Isanti receives the appropriate amount of votes on the governing body. If Isanti’s Taxpayers pay 25% of the cost then Isanti should receive 25% of the votes. This will be discussed at the next Fire Board Public Meeting Thursday November 17th.

I will as always update you on these issues.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November 15 City Council Meeting

The City Council will be holding a Public Hearing on the proposed 2006 street repairs. This is an important meeting. If you have received notification of a street repair in your neighborhood you should attend this meeting.

We will also be discussing the realignment of Credit Union Drive. This is another instance of past poor city planning. Credit Union drive has two almost 90 degree curves. If this road is straightened is can also be link across 5. The issue again is the rights of the land owners the proposed route would take. The Credit Union has asked for compensation for this realignment. The road which now passes to the east of the credit union would be moved to the west. The buildings entire orientations will be 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

The Council will discuss the driveway width ordnance. The proposed ordnance would allow driveways to be a maximum of 30 feet at the road. The current ordnance states 20 feet. The city of Isanti has had one of the most restrictive ordnances in the area. I have heard from a wide range of citizens including seniors and those with boats that need a larger entrance to their 3 car garages. All agree that widening the driveway would allow for easier access. This is the first of what will be many ordnances reforms coming from the Planning Commission.

The Fire Board which helps operate the City of Isanti Fire Department has proposed Fire District Joint Powers agreement with the City of Isanti and the Townships of Bradford, Stanford, Athens, Spencer Brook, Oxford and Isanti. I just received this information on November 10th. The general concept I think is a good one. The current agreement leaves the City of Isanti with the liability of the Fire Department without proper authority. The details of the proposed Joint Powers agreement however have a long way to go. I will discuss one in this posting and will detail more as the agreement develops.

The main issue is proper representation. I will strongly fight to have the percentage of votes equate with the percentage of funds paid. This means if the City of Isanti pays 25% of the budget then Isanti has 25% of the votes. The proposed agreement gives one vote to the City and one vote to each of the 6 Townships. This is not fair to the taxpayers of Isanti. This will be an evolving process to reach a proper agreement. I will as always keep you updated.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Alarming news from School District 911

On October 25th the Isanti Park and Recreation Board was informed of the decision by School District 911 that a playground was not to be built at the new school in Isanti. The School district had committed to building this last year. Superintendent Novak approached Isanti City staff with a request to build this playground. This was part of the bonding issue that was approved last year. Mr. Novak stated that increased construction cost led to the removal of the playground.

This was discussed at the October Park and Recreation Board meeting. The board instructed staff to ask Superintendent Novak to provide us with the proposed playground equipment cost. The board discussed several options including a community build to lower cost. We also wanted to know what else was cut from the District’s budget. We did not feel it is proper to pay School District expenses with City of Isanti funds. We have an obligation to protect the interest of our citizens. A deadline of November 16th has been set for a response to our questions.

The City of Isanti did not require any park land dedication from the Sun Prairie development because of this commitment. Last fall the School District made the City of Isanti blindly commit to having sewer and water connections to the new school location by 2006. The City of Isanti is fulfilling its commitment and yet District 911 is not living up to theirs.

I am angry that the City of Isanti was not asked to partake in the cost cutting process since it has such a dramatic effect on City Planning. As a partner with the School District, I believe these arbitrary actions will lead to further anxiety in the relationship between the Citizens of Isanti and District 911.

Bombarded with information on the growing obesity epidemic in school age children, I find it hard to fathom how this School District would eliminate this exercise option from our children. I am extremely angry with this decision. This playground would have fulfilled the park requirement in the comprehensive plan — which affects the area south of 5 and east of 65. I don’t believe it’s fair that the Citizens of Isanti must bare the cost of this School District expense.

As always, I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Planning Commission

We will be meeting for the last time in the old City Hall tonight. The Planning Commission will be discussing the important issue of Tier One Ordnances. Tier One is the territory that surrounds the City of Isanti that has been designated for future City limit expansion. The City of Isanti has zoning control of this land.

The issue arises when Isanti tries to develop ordnances that regulate behavior and establish precedent. We had an issue recently when a dog daycare and training business in Tier One applied for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). This business did not meet the requirements for such a permit from Isanti County. The City of Isanti has no ordnance regulating this type of business.

Since this property is in Tier One the landowner applied for a CUP from Isanti. This was denied by the Planning Commission and City Council. However, this process did reveal the underlining weakness. The City of Isanti appears to be able to approve such a CUP but has no mechanism to enforce existing noise and nuisance ordnances in Tier One.

This brings us to the current need to establish a policy of enforcement in Tier One. This will be a long involved process that requires both County and City officials to work together in a collaborative manner.

The Planning Commission will be receiving an update at tonight’s meeting. I would like to hear from anyone interested in this issue.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rapid Residential Growth

The sewer and water rates are the first indication of the high cost of rapid residential growth. I have been successful in driving property taxes lower but the 7.81% reduction is only a fraction of the increased sewer and water rates.

The water and sewer rates had to rise to cover the ill-advised partial rate reduction last year and new city growth. I continue to stress that new developments pay for themselves. Current city tax payers should not subsidized new growth.

We must always ask how any new development will affect Isanti’s tax base and City Budget.

The new development impacts the following:

Road construction and maintenance
Traffic impact
Water capacity
Sewer capacity
Police protection
Fire protection
City staff time
Park and trail maintenance

These are just an example of all the cost associated with growth. If this is properly understood and budgeted, then Isanti will be successful. We must also bring in new development that only improves Isanti.

We can not continue to destroy neighborhoods to benefit new development. Hillock Court is only one example of an existing neighborhood being irreversibly altered to the financial benefit of a developer.

I will, in my capacity on the Planning Commission and City Council, make sure we have answers to all these questions. A majority of the City Council however must make the correct decisions.
Development must pay for itself.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

$54,000 Admin Assistant VS Police Officer

The Isanti City Council discussed the 2006 budget tonight. I again stressed the importance of removing the $54,000 Administrative Assistant position from the budget and replacing it with a Police Officer at a cost of $35,000 starting in July of 2006. Unfortunately Mayor Apitz, Council Member Johnson and Council Member Larson voted to keep the Administrative Assistant in the budget. I believe this is a terrible decision.

Isanti needs more police protection not another administrative position. Isanti added 3 staff positions in 2005. This is a simple case of yet another staff position vs. effective police protection. Isanti’s patrol area will continue to extend as the city grows. The new extension of the city east of highway 65 will add hundreds and eventually thousands of new residents to Isanti. We will also have a 3rd school to patrol in 2006. I feel strongly that this is a safety issue.

Police protection and effective crime prevention are critical to a safe community. We can not expect to have top level results without providing our Police Department with all the tools needed.

Our Police will continue to do their best each and every day. I will continue to fight to make sure they have everything necessary to fulfill their creed to “Protect and Serve”.

County Highway 23 Trail

I am happy to report that the City Council directed the city engineer to do a feasibility study on extending the trail and sidewalk along County Highway 23. This is important to providing safe routes for children to school. I will keep you updated as this process progresses.

Sewer and Water Update

Sewer and water rates will be raised by an average of 60%. This is a difficult situation to have found ourselves in. The former Councils decision in 2004 to lower portions of the rates and the continued expense of new growth has caused a large deficit in the sewer and water funds. Unfortunately this is the only avenue available at this time to remedy the situation.

I was surprised to see only one person at the Public Hearing tonight. I had expected more public input into the process. The citizen comment about new homes not paying their fair share of the sewer cost was a good one. The first few months of a home's new hook-up is charged at a minimal rate. This gap could cost the city thousands of dollars in a high new construction year. The city uses an average of 3000 gallons to charge new homes. The city engineer stated 8000 gallons would be a better figure. I will ask for more information and a higher charge to new home hook-ups if appropriate.

City staff has been now instructed to monitor these rates to make sure we are capturing enough revenue to cover operating cost. If these rates go into a surplus then I will push to have these rates adjusted lower.