About Me

My Photo
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

Monday, April 30, 2007

May 1st Council Agenda Items

The Council will be reviewing the new residential parking ordinance, nuisance abatements, a good new business coming to town, proposal for new City website, and discussion on professional services. There are 9 other agenda items.

The first item of residential parking ordinance was tabled at the last council meeting because the City Attorney had not reviewed all the materials at that time. Please review http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2007/04/council-meeting-april-17th-2007.html for the brief discussion on this item.

The second item is following through on enforcing nuisances in the city. This again has been discussed many times and will continue to be an issue until the city has addressed all the violations. I hope after a few of these properties go through this process the word will get out that the City is serious about making improvements.

Pats Small Engines is applying to enter our industrial park. This is a company that has grown tremendously the last few years. There will be 12 to 17 jobs between $10 and $19 an hour. The majority of jobs will fall in the $10 to $13 an hour. I am excited not just because of the job creation but this is the first applicant since I became Mayor and we received the companies financials and company summary. I have been asking for this information from each applicant for the last two plus years. I hope this standard will continue to be met moving forward.

The Council will be looking to approve an overhaul of the city website. The improved website will be easier to use, allow for future bill payments, Council audio and video, strong economic development resources, citizen resources and on and on......

Lastly the Council will be looking at starting a revolving review process of City services. I asked for this agenda item so we can ensure the city is receiving the best possible service for the lowest possible cost. Many service providers including City Engineer and Attorney have not been reviewed for many years. We must make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely. We also need to have current accurate information when the City charges fees to Citizens and developers. My intent is to review one service provider each year on a revolving schedule.

Bear Books and Gifts Opening

Bear Books and Gifts opened on Main Street this week. Great store with a mix of books and gifts. Stop in and take a look.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Oberstar Cancelled

I am disappointed to report that Congressman Oberstar cancelled his visit to Isanti. No reason was given. We had discussions planned on the pedestrian bridge and economic development. I hope he will try to reschedule his visit in the near future.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chamber of Commerce Open House

You are invited to the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce Open House at our new office located at:

2 Enterprise Ave. NE, Suite C4 (by Isanti Co.
Equipment & Junction Bowl)

Thursday, April 26, 2007
5 pm to 7 pm

City Council Special Session

I called a special City Council session for Tuesday the 24th at 6:45 pm. The benefit for Jason Wicht needed to have a gambling permit for their raffle and they did not realize they needed to submit the gambling paperwork to the Council for approval. Without Council approval the raffle event could not legally occur. The next Council meeting would be after this event and I do not believe a paper work snafu should punish this man already dealing with so much adversity. This will be the only item on the agenda. If you have any further questions please let me know.

The event is April 29, 3-7 p.m. a fish fry dinner / silent auction / raffle benefit at St Elizabeth's Catholic Church at the corner of 5 and 23.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lindsi Lorinser Benefit Fund Raiser

I am reposting this so it stays on top of the Blog until the Event. The Council update is just below.

Benefit Fundraiser
For Lindsi Lorinser

Lindsi is the daughter of Anoka County Deputy Ross Lorinser and was born prematurely weighing only 1 lb. 4 oz. Ross is also an Isanti City resident and member of our Planning Commission.

Please join us April 19 at WinterGreens
306 Credit Union Dr.
Isanti, MN (763) 444-8422
From 3:00 pm to 10 pm to help Lindsi & her family!

Donations can me made to:
Community Pride Bank (763) 444-8800, under the
“Loriner Family Fund”

April 17th Council Update

We had several tough votes last night. The 2006 street assessment challenge, liquor store expansion vs. new store and the street number east of 65. We also reviewed or City Audit report. The parking in residential zones was pulled from the agenda because our City Attorney had not been able to review the proposed ordinance in time.

The Council voted to use last year’s assessment amounts for the challenging property owners. We based this decision on an appraisal of the property. The Council is bound by expert opinion in these matters otherwise there is no consistency in our decision making process. If we change the process and cost for one then we would need to change it for everyone. The property owner believed that their value did not increase because of the street, sewer, curb and gutter replacement. The clay sewer was replaced. There has been an ongoing debate about the longevity of clay sewer pipes. The City has been working over the last few years to replace all the existing clay sewer pipes. Clay may last 100 hundred years or break tomorrow. Isanti has had problems with the clay sewer pipes several years ago. Replacing the clay pipes is a precautionary maintenance process. The cost of one major pipe burst dwarfs the cost of a complete neighborhood replacement. This does not however diminish the impact of a 5k to 10k assessment.

The Council debated the merits of a liquor store expansion vs. building a new store. The current store needs major repair even without a remodel or new store build. It was just a month or so ago that several members of city staff and the liquor store staff and I were hurriedly moving inventory because there was water pouring out of the damaged sprinkler system. Nothing like a freezing cold shower combined with insulation and drywall. The cost difference between a remodel and a new store is 7% to 8% more for the new store. The benefits of a new store is that current store operations do not need to stop during construction, better location of the store and more parking, lower maintenance and lower energy cost. The Liquor Store Committee, which CM Johnson and I sit on, also considered the need to have a new building be resalable on the commercial market. This becomes important as the state and County are liberalizing liquor sales. If at some point in the future liquor sales are no longer controlled by the City we can much more easily sell the new building vs. the old. The other major point considered was if the current location should not be reconsidered. The idea has been raised to move the location out 65. This would increase sales but would also have high acquisition cost, take prime commercial real-estate off the tax rolls and may very well devastate the current commercial business adjacent to the liquor store. The Council voted to build new on the current location on the northern most portion of the existing lot. This will allow for continued operation at the current store until the move to the new store takes place. The cost of the new building will come from roughly $650,000 excess in the liquor fund and a bond paid for by liquor store profits. There will be no tax payer money used for this project. There will however be less money available to transfer to the general fund to. This is a long term investment that will more than pay for itself but we need to be honest about the funding and impact on our budget.

The Council made the final decision last night on street number and naming east of 65 along with what and who would be paid for the changes. The decision was to extend all street names from west to east and use numbering system for north/south streets. The City also agreed to pay $250 of any addressing changes for those residents whose homes were in place before the June Council meeting last year when it was first decided to make a change. After the June meeting developers and builders were notified the addresses were temporary and therefore should not have placed the address stones in homes. This has been a difficult process but the sooner we make the right decision the less harm will be done. I am thankful the Council was able to act and the city can move forward.

I am also happy to say each of these hard Council decisions was made by unanimous vote.

The City Audit presentation reveals two important facts. First, is that the hiring of our Finance Director was one of the best decision the city has ever made. We were given a clean audit and the previous years’ note about separation of duties was finally removed. Having a finance professional in this position has been a tremendous improvement for the City. The second is that we are at a tipping point of city debt and the ability to pay for it while reducing our tax burden. I have spoken about this extensively and will only add one structural concern to my past statements. Building permits and fees have fallen sharply. The City is more dependent on Local Government Aid in our budget. We have not trimmed cost for operations we no longer need and are subsidizing it with the extra LGA and interest income. One decision by the state or change in the LGA formula and the only recourse will be to raise taxes sharply if the appropriate cuts in spending are not made. I will be discussing this more this summer as we start the budget process and stressing the need to follow through on Long Term Financial Planning so we are able to adjust more quickly to changes in our community.

City Ordinance on Assessments

I thought it would be useful to publish the the ordinance on assessments.


CITY OF ISANTI
ORDINANCE NO. 2002-257


AN ORDINANCE AMMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF
ORDINANCE 161 PERTAINING TO THE ISANTI
ASSESSMENT POLICY



THE CITY OF ISANTI DOES ORDAIN:

Section 1. Section IV, Item 2, E (Streets), of Ordinance 161 shall be amended to read as follows:

Reconstruction or Resurfacing Projects: Twenty-five percent of the cost shall be
assessed to the property owners and seventy-five percent shall be assessed to the city. Reconstruction or Resurfacing for the purposes of this section does not include overlays, which shall be considered maintenance.

Section 2. Section IV, Item 3, E (Water Mains), of Ordinance 161 shall be amended to read as follows:

Reconstruction Projects: Twenty-five percent of the cost shall be assessed to the property owners and seventy-five percent shall be assessed to the city.

Section 3. Section IV, Item 4, E (Sanitary Sewer), of Ordinance 161 shall be amended to read as follows:

Reconstruction Projects: Twenty-five percent of the cost shall be assessed to the property owners and seventy-five percent shall be assessed to the city.

Section 4. Section IV, Item 5, E (Sidewalks), of Ordinance 161 shall be amended to read as follows:

Reconstruction Projects: Twenty-five percent of the cost shall be assessed to the property owners in the project area and seventy-five percent of the cost to the city.

Section 5. Section IV, Item 7, E (Curb and Gutter), of Ordinance 161 shall be amended to read as follows:

Reconstruction Projects: Twenty-five percent of the cost shall be assessed to the property owners and seventy-five percent of the cost shall be assessed to the city. Except where the need for replacement has been determined to be the responsibility of the property owner, in that case, one hundred percent shall be assessed to the abutting property owner.

Section 6. This amendment shall be effective following it’s passage and publication.



Adopted by the Isanti City Council this 16th day of April 2002.


________________________________
Mayor Apitz
ATTEST:

_____________________________________
Irene Bauer, City Clerk/Treasurer

Effective Date: April 24 2002

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Council Meeting April 17th 2007

The Council will be discussing several items of note at the meeting. The first item is the 2006 Financial Audit. There are several disturbing trends in the amount of City debt, spending and revenue sources. The previous Councils have spent well beyond the Isanti's capacity. One example is our bonded debt per capita has gone from $2,587 in 2004 to $3,214 in 2006. Our debt is out stripping our population growth. We can not continue on this course. I hope we will be able to prepare a budget for 2008 that brings discipline to City spending. The discussion of our Audit Report will lay the ground work for the budget debate that will start this summer.

The other item I want to talk about is the vehicle parking ordinance. We will be reviewing the recommendation of the Planning Commission on a revised ordinance. This covers commercial vehicles, large vehicles, boats, trailers and RVs to name a few. This will be a sweeping reform of the current standards. Once the revised ordinance is past there will be strong enforcement of the new rules.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Congressman Oberstar

We have been working for quite awhile to get congressman Oberstar to visit Isanti. He will be here Saturday May 12th at 2pm. The City Council, Park and Recreation Board, and other community representatives will be discussing the Pedestrian bridge with the Congressman. Congressman Oberstar's support is critical to success of this project. He is a leader in safe routes and alternative transportation. I am excited to have him in Isanti.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Milestone

We hit the milestone of 35,000 unique Blog page hits. I thought I would post the very first entry from March 21st 2005.
Definition

Rhetoric:

The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. A treatise or book discussing this art. Skill in using language effectively and persuasively.

I hope to use this blog as an open communication tool with the residents of Isanti.

That is how it all started...

Monday, April 09, 2007

3rd Annual Tour of Isanti

I will begin my 3rd annual tour of Isanti in May. Each year I have been on the Council I travel through each neighborhood and talk with those that have requested I stop in or that I meet as I am walking. I have met many great individuals and be made aware of numerous issues.

The tour of Isanti gives me a chance to reach out to City residents and see first hand the impact of Council decisions. If you have any specific questions you would like me to be prepared for as I visit your neighborhood please let me know. To request a visit email me at george@georgewimmer.com or call me at 763-444-7158.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Earth Day

Earth Day Celebration


Where: Cambridge Community College Food Court and Spirit River Nature Area

When: Saturday, April 21st, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Program


10:15 – 10:45 Bird Walk with Bill Carlson, Tom Anderson and Brad Wold

10:15 – 10:45 Crow walk (yes, crow walk!) with Rob Lininger

10:30 – 11:00 Live music eclectic

11:00-12:00 “What’s happening to the weather?” by MPR meteorologist
Craig Edwards

12:00 – 1:00 More great music!


Ongoing through the day


♦ Booths on rain gardens, organic foods, local growers, prairie restoration, energy efficiency, composting and more
♦ Free vegetable and tree seedlings to first comers
♦ Local growers and greenhouses
♦ Environmental groups
♦ Free tours of the Russell Johnson Herbarium
♦ Free refreshments!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sponsors
Isanti County Environmental Coalition
Active Living by Design
Anoka Ramsey Community College, Cambridge Campus

Questions?

Contact 763-689-5250
linblom825@hotmail.com

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Council Meeting April 3rd

There are several items of note from the April 3rd City Council meeting. City wide grid system adopted for addressing, BMX Community Night, City Purchasing Policy and Council by-laws.

The City wide grid addressing system was adopted to bring greater order and sense to Isanti’s street naming and numbering system. The current previous process had allowed developers name city streets without any rhyme or reason and the city’s zero line was not in the right location. City staff was directed to create a new city grid that will take names of roads from the west of 65 and rename the roads to the east of 65 if they line-up. Roads that do not line up will be renamed according to the new grid system. All names have to be approved by the City Council. The zero line is the point in city where numbers starts from. If you live at 100 x street you are in the first block from the zero line…..if you are 100 y street then you are one block over….unfortunately the zero line was moved by city staff a few years ago from Main street to highway 5 east of 65…..this should not have been done. This has caused all the numbers to the east to be off by several hundred numbers……the zero line was moved back to the imaginary extension of Main Street to the east of 65.

The purpose of these changes is safety. We need to make sure emergency personnel are able to get to an address. A logical addressing system is needed as the city grows. There a few businesses and about 20 homes east of 65 that are affected. This is painful for these addresses but the action had to happen before we have hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses in place. This is was not an easy decision for the Council but we all felt it was necessary to solve the problem now before the situation reaches a critical point.

The BMX Association is hosting four community night rides on their track. The nights are May 30th, June 27th, July 25th and August 29th. There will be a fee of $4 per rider per night but the association has extra safety equipment for riders. These nights are to give the residents of our community the opportunity to use the track without having to become members of the BMX association.

The next two items are part of the year of reforms.

The City Council adopted its first ever formal purchasing policy and Council by-laws. These may not seem like the most exciting actions but they will have some of the longest lasting effects on the city. I had the pleasure to work on both items on the Personnel Committee for the by-laws and on the Finance Committee for the Purchasing Policy. These two items are added to the newly created Travel and Reimbursement policy and start to form the backbone structure of city government.

The purchasing policy details spending limits at each level of city government and addresses budgeted and non-budget items. It also for the first time directs when competitive quotes are needed. The goal of this policy is to layout the Council’s expectations for staff and to bring greater discipline to city purchasing.

The Council By-laws are also a first for Isanti. The by-laws detail Council organization, meeting procedures, Council Members interaction with each other, with the public and the public’s interaction with the Council. I hope this will help demystify council procedures and meetings. I signed this ordinance today and it will go into effect April 12th. I encourage you to read Ordinance 393 at

http://www.ci.isanti.mn.us/vertical/Sites/%7BDDAE1093-5A2F-4061-B896-4E2183E27B6E%7D/uploads/%7B44B0B16E-54AE-4596-991A-94A418A4A7BE%7D.PDF

There will be more reform measures coming before the Council over the next year. We have had great success passing the current reforms and I believe we will continue to move along this path. Both reform items passed with unanimous votes.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Water MainFlushing

City water main flushing plan with daily neighborhood schedule is posted on the City website. http://www.ci.isanti.mn.us/

We promised it and City Staff delivered in great fashion. This is one of the many ways in which we are improving City communication with our Citizens and Taxpayers. Water main flushing is frankly a pain for us that use city water but it is absolutely necessary to maintain our system. The long term solution is also being worked on. The water treatment plant, we are currently developing, will correct this problem.

Any questions please let me know.