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

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

I want to wish everyone a happy New Year. Please be safe this weekend and take special care if drinking is part of your celebration. Read this Isanti County News Story about the Sober Cab program. http://www.isanticountynews.com/2005/december/14drunk.html


If you drink do not drive.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bad E-mail

I had a bad e-mail address link on the Blog. My correct e-mail is george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us

December 20th Council Update

The City Council tonight discussed a number of different issues. I will comment on the Central Business District (CBD), school speed zones and the final city budget.

The final Public Hearing was held tonight regarding the CBD Revitalization. The City Council voted unanimously to create the Tax Increment Financing District No. 9. This financial tool will help bring a rebirth of our Main Street businesses. It is important to not forget about Main Street as we develop east of 65.

The Council voted to pass three separate school speed zones. These zones will go into effect when all levels of government give their approval. The zones include the Middle School, Elementary School and the new Intermediate School. The speeds will be reduced to 20 m/h during specified times Monday through Friday. I hope these zones will reduce accidents and give drivers further warnings that they are driving in the presence of children.

The 2006 City Budget was passed tonight on a 3-2 vote. I voted against this budget. We have a budget that includes over 30% of new spending. This includes the infamous $54,000 Administrative Assistant.

I once again argued for an addition of a Police Officer starting in July of 2006. This officer would start just as the new school east of 65 would start operations. This would also coincide with the residential and commercial development. Isanti has added only 2 new police positions in over a decade. This decade has seen an explosion of residential growth in the city. I shared the following statistics from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with the Council comparing 2004 to 2003. Isanti County Population increased by 7%, Serious crime had a 22% increase. Vehicle theft was up 56%, Burglary increased 66% and Narcotics by 24%.

This is just a one year change. When the 2005 numbers are in I will share those with you. Isanti is expecting significant commercial growth in 2006. This adds a new dimension to policing. Our Police Department needs more help. We can not continue to expect top level protection when the Council decides an Administrative Assistant is more important than a safe city. Serious crime is on the rise. The decision not to include a new officer in this budget means 2007 is the earliest we can address this error of judgement. I asked Mayor Apitz, Council Members Johnson and Larson to consider these statistics before they approved the final budget. These three however preferred an administrative assistant to the needed police officer.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Housing Slow Down?

Read this story, http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=114051. This is more evidence we need to be careful in our budgeting process. There is a housing slowdown. We do not yet know how this will effect Minnesota, Isanti County or the City of Isanti. There has been a trickle of these reports in the last few months. If the housing industry slows in the county and city, property tax payers will be hurt. There are a lot of unknowns, this is why we need to be more conservative in our spending.

Friday, December 16, 2005

2006 Final Budget

The December 20th City Council meting will be the last time to discuss the 2006 budget. The positive includes a 7.81% levy rate reduction.

The negatives include a 30.42% explosion of spending. This is made possible by a 26% increase of Local Government Aid from the state, a 75% increase in development fees, and the increase in new homes.

The funds received from the new development and the state is “new” revenue. This revenue does however have a down side when every cent gets spent. This budget should have a greater property tax decrease. This decrease could then be used to help offset the 60% increase in the sewer and water rates. We need to understand that no matter if a cost is called a fee or a tax it comes from the same wallet. As many property tax payers are aware there is also what I like to call the hidden tax. This occurs when your home is valued higher and higher every year. You property tax rates may stay the same or be lowered but the total you pay could increase with higher valuations.

We are riding on a 5 to 10 year wave of rapid residential growth. This started for Isanti in 2001. We have perhaps 5 to 6 years left. If we continue spending at this rate Isanti will have huge structural budget problems in the years to come. Once a government entity gets use to spending it is nearly impossible to cut back.

We are adding unnecessary staff to the 2006 budget. I have continually argued against the $54,000 Administrative position to no avail. It does not appear there will be enough votes to improve this budget any further. I am proud of the influence I have had to this point but there is much yet to do.

The one area we desperately need a new position is the Police Department. Today we see another article in the Star discussing the Methamphetamine problems we face as a community. Our police department will have a 3 year period of no new officers. The Isanti budget has seen a total 47% increase during this period. Isanti has nearly doubled in the last 5 years. We receive tremendous work from our police force. We must stop over taxing our officers. The East 65 expansion and new school will add significant policing pressures on a force that is already over worked. We need to be serious about police protection.

The New City Hall cost went from an estimated 1.2 million cost including 1 million construction cost to a total nearing and possibly exceeding 1.6 million. This is a $400,000 cost overrun. We now have a request for even more expenditures. This has to finally stop.

I will continue my campaign in 2006 to bring our spending growth under control. I can not vote for this budget as it is currently written. I will fight for further property tax reductions and spending reductions in the next budget cycle.

I have already presented a reform measure for future development, the impact list. This is explained in the December Planning Commission entry. We need to have a system to track maintenance cost for city equipment. This can be used to evaluate the need to purchase new equipment and determine the life expectancy of current equipment. This tool can then be used for long term budgeting and planning. I will be detailing more of these tools in the months to come.
We have made some progress but the reform we started this year has just begun. Please atend this city council meeting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

December Planning Commission Update

The Planning Commission took an important first step in the Central Business District Revitalization Plan. We passed a resolution creating a Tax Increment Financing District for the CBD. I am excited about this process. This will direct resources to a vital business sector of Isanti. Main Street is the heart and soul of Isanti. Let’s keep working together to revitalize this city treasure.

The enforcement of the sign ordinance was discussed last night. I made my position clear that we have three phases in this process. First all businesses including the Municipal Liquor store must have the existing ordinance enforced equally. Secondly, I have requested city staff meet with concerned business owners to discuss updating and reforming this ordinance. Lastly the Planning Commission will need to review and make any necessary changes to ensure our business signage will balance the need to market the Isanti business community and our desire to have an attractive city.

The Planning Commission has been struggling to create an exotic animal ordinance. I would like to hear from the public what animals are currently in the city and what is considered exotic. We seem to agree that tigers and bears and should not be allowed in city limits. The issue we are concerned about is snakes and other exotics that have been banned by other model ordinances, but many people own. This topic will again be discussed at the next Planning Commission meeting.

We received an update on CITAC and I shared my concern that we need more Isanti City residents working on this issue. I also stated my great appreciation for the work that has been completed and gave my support to the ongoing effort fro long range transportation planning. This is not the sexiest issue but will have one of the greatest impacts on the development of Isanti County for Generations to come. I will be writing more specifically about CITAC in the weeks and months to come.

The last item I wish to discuss is my impact list to be reviewed when new residential or commercial development occurs. This list includes:

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

This list will drive the creation of planning tools to calculate the impact of development. These planning tools will then dove tail into the short and long range budget and planning process. These tools will bring clear focus to the issues both positive and negative to our Rapid Residential Growth. This list will ensure that future Planning Commision Members, Council Members and Isanti Citizens will know the impact of our planning decisions. Together we are making a difference. I will keep you updated on the progress of these planning tools.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Planning Commission 12/13/05

The Planning Commission will be discussing CITAC, Sign Ordinance Enforcement, Central Business District, Exotic Animal Ordinance, Comprehensive Plan and Tier One ordinance regulation. Woodland and Anlauf will also be presenting plats for approval. This will be a busy and important night. I hope all concerned Citizens will come to this meeting.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

School Speed Zones

The Council tabled action on the request for 20 m/h speed zones on County 5. We all seemed to agree to have the zones but wanted cleaner language and more information from the school on when the speed zones would be enforced. I also want to know the hours covered. This is important to train our police force and educated our citizens.

Many school days can run from early morning until late at night with school activities. We also have School for all Seasons. Many residents are not aware of a the year round classes. Another topic of concern is the new school east of highway 65. We wanted to have an all inclusive answer to the school zones. We will discuss this at the next Council meeting.

CITAC

CITAC was pulled from the Councils agenda last night. This allows the Planning comission to do its due diligence. Please read my past post, http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/12/december-6th-council-meeting.html, for more information.

I have requested all meeting minutes and work papers from CITAC. This will allow the Planning Commission to make an informed decision.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December 6th Council Meeting Update

Tonight’s City Council meeting covered the Fire District Agreement, Central Business District Public Hearing, Council Action on the possible litigation from Clark Construction and a gift from the Cambridge City Council.

I would like to thank the Cambridge City Council for their gift of an Atomic Clock for our new Council Chamber. They also extended their congratulations to Don Lorsung as Isanti’s new City Administrator. This shows the desire by both cities to work together.

We received an update on the progress of the Central Business District. The CBD is making excellent progress. There will be another public hear at the December 20th City Council meeting. After this public hearing Council will be asked to make the appropriate change in our TIF districts to allow for funding of the CBD.

The Council met in closed session to discuss the possible legal action from Clark Construction. This portion of the meeting is not open to the public and therefore I can not discuss it. After our closed door discussionthe meeting was reopened to the public, we voted on a compromise solution to the problem. We passed the preliminary plat with the following restriction. There can not be a structure larger than a twin home in this development. I did not want to have 4 or 8 unit buildings in this single family residential area. This is not ideal but solves the major issue of the rezoning of this area. Please reference my previous Blog posting for more details, http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/11/november-15th-council-meeting-update.html.

The last item is the proposed Fire District Agreement. As stated in my posting, http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/11/fire-district-update.html, I am opposed to the 1 vote per entity. Much of the discussion revolved around the personal relationships involved in setting up this agreement. This was used to stress that the City of Isanti has nothing to worry about regarding the expenditures of funds. This is a poor basis for a legal contract that must stand the test of time. The Townships and Isanti representation will change over time. I still strongly believe that a weighted vote is the only fair way to represent the interest of each Township and the City of Isanti. I was the only one that voted for this change.

Friday, December 02, 2005

December 6th Council Meeting

The Isanti City Council will be discussing the proposed Fire District and CITAC’s request for Council support asking the County to establish a Transportation Planning Entity.

I have detailed my position on the Fire District and will continue this discussion at Council. I direct you to my Fire District Blog entry.

The request of support for CITAC (Cambridge Isanti Transportation Action Council) is another issue. CITAC was created to encourage cooperation throughtout Isanti County. I believe this could very well be a good idea. The problem is that this did not come before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is the appropriate body to review and then recommend action to the Council. I do not want to see the City of Isanti give away more of its Authority. The Planning Commission is charged with making recommendations for the “planning” of Isanti. I will be asking why this did not go through the proper channels. This issue came before the Council in a “Last Minute” fashion once before. The Planning Commission and the full City Council should be given an appropriate amount of time to investigate this group's recommendations and their impact on the City of Isanti. We can not continue to take global actions in a snap decision manner.

The last item I want to discuss is the Central Business District. This is the Main Street area Revitalization Project. I am excited to be a part of this process. This Project will provide some of the tools to rebuild a thriving Main Street Business District. I will continue to focus attention and resources to revitalize this important Isanti Business Community.

I as always encourage everyone possible to attend City Council.