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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Park and Recreation Board Meeting

The Park and Recreation Board heard from representatives of the School district tonight. The points I came away with are:

1. The School District has provided the land and is developing sports fields.
2. The PTO, parent Teacher Organization is raising funds for play ground equipment.
3. The $24,000 is a small amount of the total being spent.
4. The District interprets the City Council Resolution in as broad a way as possible.

My Response:

1. The ball fields will be scheduled through Community ED and I am sure will be full most of the time

2. If the PTO did not exist then I would assume there would be no equipment. The City also passed the Resolution dealing with the School District not the PTO. The District seems to be triple dipping into the tax payers pocket. First with the initial bonding issue, secondly with the $24,000 in waived fees and lastly by having parents, who have already given twice, buy products their children sell to raise funds.

This last one seems to bother me more than most. One P&R Board member thought it was great to have kids sell. I do not. I am not sure when this happened but we seem to use our children as fund raisers more and more. It was mentioned that it was a Civic Duty for the children. Amazing how Civic Duty has been so twisted. I will not be surprised if the School District sends our kids out to raise money so they can be bused to school.

This is a philosophical argument I know. I did my "Civic Duty" and bought $24 from the PTO fund raiser. I worry that we continue to dip into the same pocket of the same taxpayers and it will run dry. The City of Isanti is below the state average in household income. There is already resentment over busing, activity fees and a bonding bill that our residents rejected. How many times can the taxpayer be pushed until they start to push back. We have hard working citizens in Isanti that expect their elected leaders to get the job done right the first time and not to come back with hat in hand.

3. If the $24,000 is such a small amount of money I will be happy to take it back.

4. I am extremely disappointed that the School District has taken an act of good faith and stretched it beyond reason. I have learned that if we ever partner with the District or other political entity that every detail will be spelled out verbatim.

The Park and Recreation Board approved Aluna Design to start work on a Park and Rec website and logo. This must then get aprroved by the city Council. This website will have maps and directions to city parks and trails. We will also have other information posted.

The Board will do the annual park tour the 4th Tuesday of April.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Repost of Artic Plunge

I am reposting the Artic Plunge information. It is only one week away.

Artic Plunge

I will be participating in the Artic Plunge. Yes I will be taking the big dip in the frigid waters of Long Lake. I am of course assuming that winter will make another appearance this year.

I have included the Artic Plunge information. I hope everyone will attend. This is a charity event for our Fire Fighters.

The 4th annual Artic Plunge is Saturday March 4th 2006.

Location: Sunrise Resort Bar & Grill on Long Lake

Events include:
8 a.m. registration for the 10 a.m. Vintage Snowmobile Races
1 p.m. Ice Cutting Demonstration by the Englund Family
2 p.m. Artic Plunge into Long Lake

Please call 612-282-6246 for information on taking the “Plunge”

4 p.m. Musicmen DJ service

There will be a meat raffle, raffle tickets and refreshments.

All proceeds will be donated to the Isanti Fire Department.

Please contact Carrie @ 612-282-6246 or Sue @ 763-234-9691 with any questions.

911 District Playground Update

The Park and Recreation Board will be discussing 911 School Districts lack of communication regarding the Isanti Intermediate School's playground. Please read, http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2006/02/more-alarming-news-from-district-911.html, for further background information. The District has been contacted by Our City Administrator, the Park and Recreation Board, and by myself.

There has been zero response. If the School District does not respond soon I will be asking the Park and Recreation Board and City Council to request our $24,000 back in waived fees. Again these fees were waived by City Council Resolution because the Intermediate School would be providing a park/playground.

The City has asked for a School District representative to come to the next City Council work session with no response. The Park and Recreation Board will be asking for a representative to be at our next meeting.

Communication is the key to any successful relation, we are sadly lacking that in this case.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Eminent Domain and Party Politics

Wade Vitalis, Chisago County Democratic Chair, recently asked how many people in Isanti or Chisago counties are living under the threat of Eminent Domain. The Citizens of the City of Isanti, estimated at 5,000, dealt with this issue in 2005. A local resident is currently struggling under the Eminent Domain process. The City Council on a vote of 3-2, I voted against, decided to take a Highway 65 access from an individual and place it to the benefit of Isanti’s largest developer.

This can happen to any of us. The idea that local government can take from the individual and give to large developers or corporations is the very tyranny our forefathers fought against in the Revolutionary War. All citizens must be given an equal chance to succeed. The improper use of Eminent Domain strikes at the very core of fairness and equality for all.

Property taxes are a concern for the two counties residents. If Mr. Vitalis lived in the City of Isanti he would have realized an almost 8% reduction in property taxes.

The greater point is if Mr. Vitalis would concentrate on democratic, with a small d, ideas and not Democratic Party politics we would be able to resolve the Eminent Domain and property tax issues.

Strong debate by all sides is what makes America great. We should however refrain from attributing evil intent to anyone’s position. The main issue I have with Mr. Vitalis is he is attributing deceptive or pandering to Senator Nienow.

I personally wrote Senator Nienow a letter last year asking the Legislator to protect the individual property owner from local government tyranny. I wrote last year against Eminent Domain, which was a non-election year.

The battle of ideas will determine who represents us at all levels of government. I suggest Mr. Vitalis reads Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. This will give you a base for the argument against the destructive use of Eminent Domain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 21st City Council Update

The Exotic Animal Ordinance was tabled to have the Planning Commission review the City Attorney's comments. The Planning Commission will discuss this at the March 14th meeting.

Community Pride Bank was approved for immediate operation. The bank will initially operate out of a double wide bank trailer. The permanent structure will be built this summer with expected completion in early fall.

We discussed the Small Cities Grant. The grant will be a useful tool for continued revitalization of the Main Street Business District. I had a deep concern there was only one quote. The quote is for a company to do the application of the grant. The quote the City received was for $17,000. I told staff that if we are going to spend this much money we need at least two quotes. The company that applied has a relationship with another City contractor. I stated this can have the appearance of impropriety, especially if there are no other quotes. I believe that we always need to be above reproach when spending City funds. I moved to table this action until the next Council Meeting. There will need to be at least one other quote.

The City Council voted to approve the extension of the City sidewalk along County 23. This action will create a safe route along highway 23 from South Passage to Isanti Parkway. This was a personal goal from the moment I started to run for City Council.

The City Conflict of Interest Policy was reviewed by the City Attorney. I asked if we could have applicants for City Boards and Commissions fill out the Conflict of Interest forms when they apply. This is important to consider and will hopefully avoid having commissioners and board members who have conflicts of interest. We need to have Citizens serving without a personal or financial stake in business before the City.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Isanti County Environmental Coalition

I have asked the Isanti County Environmental Coalition, ICEC, to speak at the March 14th Planning Commission meeting. They will be presenting information on the importance of incorporating environmental impacts into our Comprehensive Plan. This information will help us to be good stewards of our City and environment. I believe it is important to learn as much as we can from all sources. The information that the ICEC presents will be integral in making sure Isanti does its part preserving our environment.

We have a duty ensure proper land use. This also has the added benefit of maintaining higher home values. Trails with nature viewing would be an added benefit for home owners. This may not seem like a need today but in 50 years this whole area will look just like Coon Rapids.

Lets keep Isanti unique and special. We must incorporate green space and wildlife corridors in our planning to ensure that Isanti’s natural beauty will be seen for generations to come.

Friday, February 17, 2006

February 21st Council Meeting

I have picked out a few of the important items from the February 21st Council meeting. We will be reviewing the Exotic Animals Ordinance. The Planning Commission has been working on this for the last few months. I have been suprised that there has been no public input. This is amazing considering all the issues the County and townships have been facing regarding this issue.

Community Pride Bank will be presenting there site plan and asking for a Conditional Use Permit for their upcoming bank project. The bank would be located east of Highway 65 in the Fairway Greens development. This will add a third banking institution to Isanti. I am strong believer that competition in all areas makes Isanti a stronger community.

I have asked that the County Highway 23 sidewalk be included in the 2006 street construction and repair. If this is included there will be either a trail or sidewalk the entire distance of 23 on one side or the other. This coupled with the 23 and 5 intersection work and trail extension will give all of us, especially children, a safe route along this busy county highway. This sidewalk is a high priority and needs to be approved.

The City has an opportunity to lower City employee insurance rates. The savings to Isanti is 22.4% for the same coverage. This equates to $63,546 a year in savings cost. This is fantastic news for Isanti City Taxpayers. It is rare to be able to lower health insurance cost and maintain the same high level of coverage. City staff has done a good job in this process.

The City Attorney will be reviewing the Conflict of Interest Policy. This is incredibly important to the fair and transparent use of City power. All Citizens rich or poor need to know they will receive the exact same level of service. I feel strongly that all Citizens and Taxpayers must be treated equally and know their elected officials are not influenced by personal gain, financial or otherwise.

The Police Department will be asking to fill the two vacant part time Officer positions. This will bring the Police force back to its previous level. I hope there can be agreement to bring the Police force to this subsistence level.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Clarification

The letter in the Isanti County News from Planning Commissioner Duff had incorrect information. There will not be a hearing of the Sign Ordinance at the February 14th Planning Commission meeting. The title for this letter, apparently chosen by the paper, makes it appear as though a hearing is set for the February meeting. There will be a quick update on the progress made. Commission input will also be asked for. The Sign Sub-Committee plans to have this ready for a public hearing at the March 14th Planning Commission meeting.

All public hearings are posted by City staff. I hope this clears up any confusion.

911 Update

Isanti City Staff met with District 911 staff regarding only the School Resource Officer, SRO. The School District and City staff will work out a solution to be reviewed by our Police Commission. I am hopeful this issue can be resolved.

The subject of the School Park has yet to be resolved. The City of Isanti passed a resolution in 2005 waiving the Park Dedication Fees. These fees are estimated to be over $20,000. The School District would be in violation of this Resolution if the money they saved was not used for the park.

I will keep you updated.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Alarming News from District 911

School District 911 has shown their disrespect to the Isanti City Taxpayer. The first issue is the playground at the new school in Isanti. This was originally presented to the City of Isanti as part of the school build. The City was asked to waive fees in excess of $20,000. These fees were waived in anticipation of this playground serving the entire neighborhood. The School District did not include the playground in the final build.

Now the School district will be sending out our children to raise the funds to build the playground. Our children will literally be responsible for the School Districts decision not to fund this park. If this is the School Districts decision then they should pay Isanti back the $20,000 plus dollars Isanti contributed to this project through fee reductions. The letter in the Cambridge Star is asking only Isanti Businesses and citizens to help pay. The Isanti Taxpayer should not pay a District expense. The children going to this school are not just Isanti City kids. Children from the surrounding townships will also be attending.

The second issue is the School Resource Officer. The School District and the City of Isanti have had a letter of understanding stating the District pays 68% of the School Resource Officer. Isanti has not received a single payment for 2005-2006 school year and is stilled owed more than $7,000 from 2004-2005. To add insult to injury, Cambridge is being paid for their School Resource Officer. Isanti City staff will be meeting with School District staff to resolve this issue.

As an Isanti City resident and Council Member I believe it is shameful to have the Taxpayers of Isanti pay District wide expenses. I would expect more from the District 911 School Board. I will not stop working on this issue until the City of Isanti is treated fairly.

City Council February 7th Meeting.

The Isanti City Council voted to install stop signs at County 23 and 5. These signs will have no bearing on the traffic lights scheduled to be installed after the end of this school year. We also voted to ask the County to do a speed study on Highway 23 on Isanti's southern border. This is done to move the speed zone south as the City continues to expand in this direction.

Brian Iverson had his assistant read his letter of resignation to the Council. I am glad we can now move on from this situation. I have been calling for his removal from the EDA since last August. The City can now select an individual that will not have the conflict of interest issues that surrounded MR. Iverson. My reasons are posted here: http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/08/august-3rd-council-update.html.

Federated Co-op laid out their vision of the remodeling of their facility on County highway 5. I am extremely excited by this project. This is the first business to take advantage of the Central Business District (CBD) Revitalization program. Isanti is on the verge of a tremendous reemergence of Isanti’s CBD.

The Council set March 8th for the Public Hearing regarding the City fee increases. Many of these fees will have dramatic increases. IF want to be heard make it to this meeting.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sign Ordinance Sub-Committee

The Sign Ordinance Sub-Committee met February 1st. More progress has been made on temporary signs. We are looking at allowing temporary signs to be posted year round. These would be restricted in size and type. This is not a final decision but there seems to be broad agreement that 30 days is far to short a period of time.

I am strongly behind allowing businesses the flexible to use signage to bring in business. Many businesses have stated they bring in 40% to 60% of their business with temporary signs. The signage must however not be overwhelming. We must maintain an aesthetically appealing city.

We are working on a formula that allows businesses a portion of the total road frontage allowed. This means that if there are 5 businesses in a building each business would have 20% of the total allowed sign space. We are also looking at allowing businesses to buy the space allowance from their neighbors. These are just some of the ideas we are working on.

We are trying to use a high level of creativity to solve this problem and fix our current Sign Ordinance. Please contact me with any questions, concerns or helpful comments.

Comprehensive Plan

We had our 2nd Comprehensive Plan meeting Thursday February 2nd. This meeting was well attended. We have established a number of goals that will be further defined at the next meeting. No date has yet been set. The meeting that defines the broad goals will be incredible important. As they say the devil is in the details.

I will be laying out my thoughts in detail in the next few weeks.

Isanti County Environmental Coalition

I will be meeting with the Isanti County Environmental Coalition. I am trying to educate myself on enviromental issues. I am smart enough to know I need to learn as much as possible regarding enviremental impacts of development. Isanti is working on a Comprehensive Plan that determine land uses for up to 10 years. We need to make sure enviremental concerns are adressed. I will be discussing the following topics:

1. Isanti County Environmental Coalition input into the Comprehensive Plan.
2. Discussion on a County wide trail system.
3. Open green space incorporated into City planning.
4. Responsible Rum River recreational use.
5. Home building reducing wetlands.
6. Home owners filling in wetlands that abut their homes.
7. Isanti County Environmental Coalition input into home owners manual.
a. Home owners manual would be given to City residents.
b. This manual would contain ordinances and other important information.

I will inform you of what I have learned and discussed.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

February 7th Council Meeting

There are a few important items on the February 7th Council Meetings.

The first item that I wish to discuss is the Business Subsidy for Federated Co-op. The subsidy is the first step in the overall Central Business Districts (CBD) Revitalization program. The subsidy is paid out of increased tax revenue. This revenue is generated when Federated builds a new facility. Isanti will continue to receive its current tax revenue. The new building will be more attractive and generate a higher level of tax revenue in the long term.

It is critical the first project in the CBD is a success. We have many more opportunities along Main Street. Success breeds success. We need to make sure this process continues with all the support we can muster.

The Council will be taking official action to request a speed study on Highway 23. This study will be conducted by the county. The goal is to move the City speed zone further south on Highway 23. As we extend the city limits the slower speed zones will need to follow suit.

The next agenda item I want to discuss is the option of having a 4 way stop at the intersection of Highway 23 and 5. This is a stop gap until the traffic light is installed. I am not convinced a 4 way stop will make the intersection safer. The end result may be more accidents unless the intersection has flashing lights or other clearly marked signs. I also fear long traffics lines on Highway 5. I am looking into this further and do not currently know which way I will vote on this proposal.

Mr. Iverson’s resignation form the EDA will be acted on. I have written previously on this topic. http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2006/02/eda-opening.html

The last major item is the City Fee schedule. The fee schedule ranges from developer to builder to citizen. All fees are being reviewed. City staff is requesting a raise in many areas. There are some significant possible increases. These range from dog impounding to deck and siding fees. I suggest if you want input into these fees you attend the Council meeting.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

EDA Opening

Mr. Iverson resigned from the EDA, Economic Development Authority. Mr. Iverson's statement of resignation pointed to my continued questions of his membership. I have made the argument that Isanti’s largest developer should not serve on an appointed City board or commission. Please read the following post for more information.

http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/08/august-3rd-council-update.html

Isanti will be accepting applications for this position after Tuesday’s Council meeting. The City Council must first accept his resignation then direct staff to post for the open position. I hope we will find a City resident to fill this position. The EDA is a critical Board to the success of Isanti's business community. I will post more on this position in the future.