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

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Budget Work Session Update

The Council heard presentations last night from Planning and Zoning, Finance/Administration, EDA and Parks. The City's Finance Director also gave a brief overview of the entire budget.

I asked to have some follow through on the budget structure to make it clearer where and how City funds are spent.

Mayor Apitz asked to have a discussion on pay raises for himself and the council. I am amazed by this discussion. The Mayor is paid $3,925 and Council Member $2,838. This is above the area average. Mayor Apitz and Council Members Johnson and Larson thought we should be getting paid more for the extra meetings.

One of the many reforms I have been pushing is having work sessions so the Council can be educated on specific topics. These meetings are new since I was elected but this is work that should have been done years ago. Being the Mayor or City Council Member is not easy and is not to be done for the money. It is an honor to serve the Citizens of Isanti. I will fight any pay or per diem increase that is proposed. Pay increases will be discussed at the August 15th council Meeting. Isanti is looking at double digit tax increases and yet these three want to raise their pay.

There were two surprises last night. The first is that the proposed Property Tax Levy increase went from 11.86% to 14.73%. The second is a request for $30,000 to have a consultant review the p/z ordinances. This is not needed at this point. The Planning and Zoning Commission still has much work to do to reform these ordinances. The City has another $15,000 in the budget for codification.

There is a request for a $10,000 intern to work on planning and zoning. This should not be paid for by property tax dollars but should be paid for by building and development fees.

The City's Debt payments is currently eating up 15% of our total budget. This must be reduced. Isanti can not continue to grow debt and burden the generations to come. We must make the tough choices to keep our City debt manageable.

If we remove the $30,000 from the budget and pay for the $10,000 intern from fees we will save the taxpayer $40,000. or 1.5% of the tax levy.

This is but the start. As we continue to discuss staff request I will be laying out further reductions to balance our budget. I will not vote for a single dollar more in taxes. We need to reduce the tax burden on our residents. I will be presenting changes that will lower our tax levy by at least 7%.

The next budget work session is August 10th 6pm.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yard Signs

I am putting together the list of properties for signs. If you will be willing to host a "George Wimmer for Mayor" sign please click the link-- george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us and e-mail me your address.

Yard signs can not go in before August 1st by state statue and City Ordinance.

Thank you for your support.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Preliminary Budget

The 2007 Preliminary Budget was handed out to City Council Members on Friday. This document is put together by City staff and is the basis for the Council work sessions.

I am quite disappointed by this preliminary budget. Many of the structural request I had made to show the true cost of City operations are not reflected.

My greater disappointment however is in the proposed 11.86% increase in the City Property Tax Levy. This is wholly unacceptable. Several key points need to be made as to why we are at this point.

A 19% reduction in licenses and fees has been estimated due to the slow down in the housing market. A 30% increase in City General Obligation Bonds..I.E. City debt and the increase cost of operating City Hall are just a few of the many strains being made on Isanti's Tax Payers.

The amount of debt Isanti has accumulated to date makes any future bonding extremely difficult. We simply can not burden Isanti's Taxpayers with more debt until current obligations are paid off or the subsidized businesses generate more tax revenue. We can not continue with past failed policies.

I have been making the argument since 2004 when I first ran for City Council that the amounts being spent were NOT sustainable. I voted against last years budget which increased City spending by over 30%. This years budget increases by a further 10% on top of the last budget.

Isanti must curb its spending euphoria and reduce our property tax burden. This is but the first stage in the budgeting process. We must enforce a strict budgeting discipline at each stage of the process--- for if we do not we will never be able to pass an efficient budget. The final budget vote is conveniently after this falls election.

Elections matter. Perhaps this year Mayor Apitz, Council Member's Larson and Johnson will show greater spending restraint since it is an election year, we can only hope.


I will keep you posted each step of the way.

Friday, July 21, 2006

West Nile Death in Minnesota

Minnesota has the first West Nile Death in the county for 2006. We are entering the period of the year that is highest risk for mosquitoes bearing West Nile.

Here is the link to the story.

http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=129980

Here is the link to my Mosquito Control Program.

http://georgewimmer.com/Mosquito.html

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Council Update

There are two items I wish to discuss regarding Council work.

The first is the meeting schedule for the next two weeks.

There will be two special meetings next week. The first will be Monday the 24th at 6pm. This work session is to discuss GMHF concern that Isanti has not been working on a "model" community of affordable housing. I have stated many times and still believe that Isanti has a full stock of "affordable housing". This is the current older small housing stock as well as the numerous condos for sale. There are also many newer homes under $175,000 on the market.

Isanti needs needs to diversify into all types of housing including medium and higher priced to maintain an appropriate tax base to pay for our City services. According to the background information report provided during the Comprehensive Planning process that shows roughly 50% of Isanti's housing is affordable.

The cost that has increased the most in this market is land. Lots have gone from $20,000 in the recent past to the $100,000 range, in a few short years. The norm of an average lot being in the $40,000 to $60,000. The City can not be in the game of subsidizing high land prices that will interfere with normal market forces. This will only help sustain a real estate bubble in our area.

The second Council Work session will begin the budgeting process on Wednesday July 26th at 6pm. The City Budget is the plan for our future. We set priorities and give direction to staff for the next year of city operation.

The 2006 budget passed, in 2005 was a document of excess and poor choices. This can easily be summarized in two facts. The choice of the majority of the Council, Mayor Apitz, Council Members Larson and Johnson to create the $54,000 Administrative Assistant position and to explode the budget by over 30%. These three also deniened expanding the City Police force by one officer stating in July of 2006.

2005 saw dramatic crime increases. It had been 3 years since a new police position had been added. Three years that included a doubling in the City's Population. In 2005 alone there was a 42% increase in theft, 70% increase in assault and 24% increase in vandalism and narcotics. This did not move these three Council members to improve Isanti's Police force. I hope they will rethink their poor decisions of 2005 and work to create a budget that will lead us safely into 2007.

I am proposing a 7% to 10% decrease in City Property Taxes. This can be easily accomplished. The Council exploded spending by over 30% in 2006. The City also collected $350,000 in "extra" non-budgeted money. This is currently being spent. $350,000 in excess taxes is 10% of the budget. We must reduce the flow of taxes into City Hall and spend the money collected more efficiently. If this Council collects the money they will spend it. This is why I am asking for a 20% reduction in the city Sewer rates at our August 2nd council meeting. The City is currently collecting over 24% more in fees than is needed to pay for sewer operations.

To learn more about my Tax and Fee plan go to http://georgewimmer.com/Tax.html

The budgeting work sessions are all open to the public and I hope you will attend.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

School Board

All four incumbent 911 School Board members are running unopposed this fall.

I find this surprising considering all the issues with bonding and school cost. I believe competition is good for elective bodies.

If our officials are never challenged they may not have fully explored all avenues to solving problems. I am smart enough to know I do not know everything. Listening and answering opposing arguments strengthens the end result.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Parade Response

I have been receiving dozens of calls and e-mails from the parade effort. I want to again thank everyone for their support and encouragement. Together we will reform Isanti.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Isanti Rodeo Information

Isanti Rodeo Information

Link to Isanti Rodeo information:

http://www.iprarodeo.com/Rodeos/Isanti.php

Parade Group


Click picture to enlarge

We ended up with 53 people in the parade. This was an incredible turnout. I want to thank everyone that walked and supported us in the crowd. This was a great night.

State Demographer Population Estimate

The State Demographer released his population estimate for Isanti. This number is as of April 2005 . These estimate generally lag a little over a year. So with no further ado:

April 1, 2005 population estimate is 5,181

April 1, 2005 household estimate is 1,827

This important because this moves Isanti into another classification as a City. This impacts certain regulation and road money. I will be informing you more about this in the near future.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Watering Ban Ordered by City Administrator

This is the Water Ban Notice. Thought people would like to read it.


NOTICE

RESTRICTIVE WATERING BAN IN FORCE

To Residents of the City of Isanti:

The City is currently pumping water 24 hours a day to maintain the water supply in the city system. To ensure there are sufficient amounts of water to allow for normal usage and emergencies (i.e. fire) the following restrictions have been put in place:

Effective immediately, City Ordinance No. 144 shall be enforced as follows:

All property with address that ends with an odd number (i.e. 113) may sprinkle on odd numbered (i.e. 13) days, and all property with address that ends with an even number (i.e. 110) may sprinkle on even numbered (i.e.10) days.


THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTION SHALL APPLY TO ALL PROPERTY OWNERS:

TOTAL BAN OF SPRINKING FROM 12:00 NOON TO 6:00 P.M.
ONLY ODD / EVEN SPRINKLING ALLOWED

THIS WATERING RESTRICTION WILL BE ENFORCED.
VIOLATORS SHALL BE FINED.


If efforts taken to reduce the amount of water being used are not successful, further restrictions in lawn sprinkling may be imposed. If you have any questions, please contact City Hall at 763-444-5512.

Properties with new lawns of less than six weeks old may be exempt from the odd/even sprinkling restriction. Please call City Hall to request the exemption.


By Order of the City Administrator

Dated: July 13, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rodeo Association Donation

I would like to thank the Rodeo Association and volunteer Fire fighters for all their great work. The Rodeo Association raises hundreds of thousands of dollars through thousands of hours of volunteer work for equipment, structures and training of fire fighter personnel. Tom Pagel of the Rodeo Association presented the Fire Board with a check for $60,000 to help pay for Fire Station 3 on July 10th.

This personifies the Isanti spirit of hard work and giving that makes our community strong. We should not forget the net result of all the giving by the Rodeo Association and the hard work of the Volunteer Fire Fighters. The training, that just this weekend, saved a man from the river with several severe injuries. By using proper technique and equipment they prevented paralysis and even possible death.

The dollars raised by the Rodeo Association helps keep every one of us safe. While having fun at the Rodeo this weekend we should thank the hard working Fire Fighters that make it all possible.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 5th Council Update

I wanted to update you on the sewer fee discussion. The Public Hearing will be held the first Council meeting in August. I was able to get a second option for discussion. The original 12% will be presented along with the 20% reduction I advocated.

Isanti has been collecting 24% more than budgeted for sewer services. This is $12,000 per month over the $50,000 budgeted. At the end of August the City will have over collected $96,000. This is almost two months extra revenue for the sewer fund.

My experience in City Government to date tells me if the money is collected they will find a way to spend it. The City has a "surplus" from 2005 of over $300,000 in the general fund. This is already being spent on "extra" projects. I do not want a large surplus to accumulate in the sewer fund or it to will be spent.

This will be critically important as we enter the budget cycle. We must make Isanti's government lean and efficient. It is important as housing and development begin to slow. We do not want to be like some cities in our region that have had to raise property taxes by double digits.