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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

January 2nd 2007 Council Meeting

The new City Council will be meeting 7pm on January 2nd. I will be sworn in and officially start my Mayoral duties. The Council will be discussing several items of note.

  • Council Committee Assignments
  • Citizen appointment to open seats on EDA, Planning Commission and a possible open Park and Recreation seat
  • Discussion and direction on the special election ordinance, primary ordinance and if there will be an appointment.
  • Goal Setting
The Council Committee assignments are important to the proper function of City government. I have asked each incoming and current Council members for their desired appointments. I have been able to appoint everyone to their top selections. I have also made sure that each Council member will be working with each other on different committees. This will ensure a better working relationship than previous years. It is important that we each have a chance to work with each other.
The Council will be interviewing and selecting members for EDA and the Planning Commission. There also maybe a seat opening on Park and Recreation but we have not heard back yet from the individual. It is critically important that we select people for these bodies that will help reform and move our City forward.
There will be discussion on a proposed special election ordinance and primary. I strongly believe we need to have a special election ordinance on the books to make sure our elected officials are elected not appointed. The quoted cost of $500 to $700 for the special election is far less than some detractors had been publicizing. If the majority of hte Council decides to make an appointment then there needs to be agreement on who would be appointed. The need for a primary should be obvious to everyone after the debacle of 7 candidates for Council leading to small vote totals for successful Council Candidates. With totals hovering around 20% and under Council members are serving while having 80% plus of the voters not having chosen them. This should never happen again. We will also be discussing if an appointment will be made for the short term or the remaining two years. This will go hand in hand with the special election ordinance discussion.
The last item is goal setting. I am hoping to have intense goal setting sessions to layout the 2007 agenda. We have significant issues that need to be resolved. I will be explaining these in my State of the City Address. I hope all members of the Council will want to participate in this critical step forward in Isanti's future.
It is important that everyone that can make the meeting should be there. This meeting will set the tone and determine the City's success for the next year. Any questions please let me know..... george@georgewimmer.com or 763-444-7158.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Upcoming Post

I will be posting the agenda for the January 2nd Council meeting. This meeting is important because it sets the tone for the coming year. We also do Board and Committee assignments. This puts the City organization together for the forth coming year.

I will be posting my State of the City Address on the 4th of January. I will be discussing the City's current position as well as laying out my 2007 agenda.

I have started receiving request to speak in front of area groups and clubs. If you wish me to speak to your group please e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

A few quotes for the day.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.” ~Taylor Caldwell

“Christmas gift suggestions:To your enemy, forgiveness.To an opponent, tolerance.To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” ~Oren Arnold

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it. ~Richard Lamm

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~ Dr. Seuss

Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words. ~ Harlan Miller

Merry Christmas Everyone

Monday, December 18, 2006

Special Election/Appointment

It was a pretty interesting discussion tonight about the appointment/special election options. Some of my fears were realized. When discussing the appointment process Council Member Johnson did not want the appointment to happen the first meeting in January. Why you ask. He will be on vacation. Then the discussion moved to what appointment process would be established. This opened up into maybe interviewing possible candidates for the position. I stated that the only appointment that should be considered would be the third place finisher. This then turned into a discussion by some that well the election was so close maybe picking him is not the fairest and the Council should pick the "best" candidate. This is one of the reasons why opening it up to a purely appointment process is so dangerous. Once Pandora's Box is opened you can not close it. The main reason for making an appointment is ensure we have enough Council members at meetings to conduct City business. If the Council decides to wait to make an appointment through some ridiculous interview process it will be over a month to make the decision. In that case lets pass a special election and primary ordinance and choose that way.

Council Member Johnson then said well special elections usually have low turn out. This is correct but if he worried about a small portion of the population making the choice then he should be more concerned about 4 Council members making that choice.

Council Member Elect Duff's wife, also current EDA Chair, was at the meeting tonight and echoed her husband's concern about the cost of an election. Staff estimated the cost on the high end to be $700.

I wanted to try and find a solution that would be the best benefit to the City and make an initial appointment until the Council could agree on a primary and special election ordinance. This however seems difficult at best. The introduction of appointing anyone but the third place finisher gets us back to "the good ole days "when friends were appointed to open seats. I will not tolerate such a process.

The Council has made 7 appointments in the last few years to fill open seats. This process must end. We must ensure fairness and transparency in our City Offices.

Council Work Session

The Council will be getting information tonight on the proposed commuter rail line, Special Election vs appointment and a library update at the December 18th Work session.

The rail line update will be the first item and pertain to the proposed commuter uses the rail line in Isanti. We will also be updated on the City's involvement and what it would take for a rail stop in Isanti.

The next topic is a difficult one. I have been arguing for a special election to fill the remain two years of my Council seat. With the City Attorney opinion this seems to be less likely of happening. First the Council would have to approve a special election ordinance. We would need to state the circumstances under which an election would occur such as time left on position. This will be tough under ideal circumstances and near impossible if there is not Council agreement. In all fairness to the Council it would be appropriate for each Council Member to weigh the pros and cons of any proposed idea for the ordinance to make sure it is right. Another issue with a special election to fill the Council seat is that the City does not have a primary ordinance. This is critical because a number of anti-special election individuals seem to be thinking of making any special election into a mockery. This would be done by having 20 or 30 people pay the $2 each to sign-up for the election. Without a primary ordinance this would cause a circus like environment. The past election with 7 candidates led to low percentage candidates winning elections. When someone wins with only 15 or 20 percent of the vote that means 80 to 85 percent did not want that candidate. With many individuals running this would be even worse.

I am going to propose the Council appoint the third place finisher Jeff Kolb and we work this year to get a primary ordinance and special election ordinance on the books so we do not run into this problem in the future. It was not an issue in the past because seemingly no one thought appointing elected officials was an issue. We need to leave this process in the past after the election reforms are completed. I do not like this decision but it appears to be the only practical option left.

I am not sure what the library update will be until I hear it tonight along with the rest of the public as no written material was provided.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 19th City Council Meeting

The City Council will be discussing a few items of note at the December 19th meeting. We may be able to discuss a few settlement offers on the Eminent Domain taking, 2007 Budget and Tax Levy and the two new planned rail signal arms planned for Isanti Parkway and South Passage.

The city will hopefully have most if not all negotiated settlements to the disastrous takings of private land for the east 65 development. I voted against this last year and have felt strongly that any use of eminent domain to take private property rights would have to pass a very high bar of public necessity making it virtually impossible. The situation in this case did not come anywhere near that bar. I hope we can put this sad chapter behind us as a City and never go down that road again.

I have written and spoken quite a lot about the failures of this current budget and levy. I will be voting against the increase spending in the budget and the lack luster property tax reduction of just over 3%. I had proposed a 12% reduction with several needed spending cuts. I will work in 2007 to limit any excess spending and try to rein in extra cost.

Isanti Parkway will be receiving a crossing arm at the railroad tracks in 2008 and South Passage will be receiving its control arm in 2009. This is a long process because the majority of the money is from MnDot with smaller matching funds from the City. These control arms will help improve safety at these critical rail crossings.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Recognition of Mayor Apitz Service

You are invited to attend a
Social Recognition for
Isanti Mayor, David E. Apitz

Thursday, December 21, 2006
4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.

Isanti City Hall Council Chambers
110 1st Avenue North
Isanti, MN 55040

Isanti County Comprehensive Plan

Isanti County Parks and Recreation will be holding a Public Work Shop. It is open to the public. We hope everyone that can make it will show up to voice their opinion. This is to help form the Isanti County Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan.

The meeting is as follows:

Thursday January 25th 7pm
Cambridge Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Any questions please call:
Isanti Parks and Recreation at 763-689-8220
Isanti County Active Living by Design at 763-552-3254

Isanti County Christmas Project

The Isanti Lion's Club is doing their annual Isanti County Christmas Project. You can read more about this tremendous effort at http://www.isanticountynews.com/readersforum.html under the title Be a Christmas Hero this Year.

As a child that grew up with very little this project is near and dear to my heart. These gifts simple gifts can make a big difference in the life of a child. Knowing there are others out there willing to help gives you hope.

I would like to thank Tom Pagel and the Isanti Lions for their great work.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Open EDA and Planning Commission Seats

The City of Isanti is currently taking applications for open positions on the EDA and Planning Commission. If you have any questions please let me know.

If you would like an application please go to City Hall or Call Irene Bauer at 763-444-5512

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Office Hours

Office Hours

I will be holding office Hours at Isanti City Hall as follows starting in January:

Monday 2:30 to 4:30
Wednesday 12:15 to 2:30
Friday 12:15 to 2:30

Other times by appointment. You may schedule a time by e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com or calling me at 763-444-7154. No matter how great or small your issue may be I would like to hear it. The next great idea may "walk in off the street".

A Sign of Tough Times

The Council certified the cites delinquent water and sewer charges last night. The number of accounts and dollars not paid were off the charts. Several hundred percent above last years total. This is a sign of the number of home owners in difficult financial situations and foreclosed homes. We need to track this carefully as we are setting city policy and budgets.

Pedestrian Bridge

I was happy that the Council passed the Pedestrian bridge location by a vote of 5-0. We will now begin the process of applying for federal money to fund the project. A pedestrian bridge over a high traffic highway such as 65 is considered a high priority project for transportation funding. This is still a long process but the initial hurdle has been jumped.

2007 Street Improvement Update.

The 2007 Street Improvement Project was voted down again last night. After much debate I was unable to convince the Mayor and Council members Johnson and Larson that county 23 and 5 needed sidewalks more than low traffic City side streets. I offered a comprimise resolution which would have passed all the needed sewer and street construction and left the sidewalks out. This failed on a 2-3 vote.

I am disappointed that we could not pass the needed sewer replacements. I hope to take this up again in January.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce

The Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce Website has a list of great local businesses and upcoming events. Give it a look.


Truth in Taxation Hearing 12/6/06

The Council will be holding the truth in taxation hearing 12/6/06 at 7pm in City Hall. We will be discussing the 2007 preliminary budget. We will be reviewing the changes needed in the budget to cover the current 20% drop in permit revenue for 2006 alone. The implications for 2007 will have to be analyzed to make sure we are not over estimating this revenue source.

We will also be viewing a 10 minute video of "Fourteen Reasons why Property Taxes vary from Year to Year". I have yet to see the video and will be interested to see what the League of Minnesota Cities has produced.

The meeting will be a preview of the final budget adoption on 12/19/06. Hope to see you there. It should be an educational night.

Items from the December 5th Council Meeting

The City Council will be discussing the proposed 2007 Street Improvement Project again at Tuesday's Council meeting. I will ask that the $126,000 proposed for the sidewalks in this low traffic area be spent for sidewalks and trails along County 5 and 23. I am hopeful we can reach a compromise on this subject so the street project may move forward to replace the last portions of clay sewer pipe in the City.

We will also be discussing the proposed pedestrian bridge. The Park and Recreation Board, which I chair, has asked the Council to approve our selection of option 7a. This option places the bridge on the north side of Broadway and the corresponding ,yet to be named, new road to the east of 65. I have been working to bring a pedestrian bridge to Isanti because it is critically important to provide a safe route to cross highway 65. This project is measured in years not months and I will continue to work hard to make this bridge a reality. We will start the application process for grant money as soon as the Council approves the plan. The City portion of the bridge will be roughly 20% of the cost. The estimated total cost is 1.5 million dollars on the high end. Isanti would pay $300,000 out of the Park dedication fees. These are fees paid by developers not Isanti Tax Payers.

I will keep you posted.