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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

October 2nd Council Meeting

We have a couple agenda items I want to discuss. The items are the possible 2008 street improvement project, water/sewer rate study, special assessment policy for petitioned projects, police lieutenant and nuisance enforcement time lines.

The first item relates to two different street projects. the first is the Palomino Acres neighborhood. The streets included are Pinto Lane, Appaloosa Lane and Buckskin Blvd. The Council invited, by letter, all the residents of this neighborhood to discuss the possible placement of curb and gutters. The streets in this area were constructed without the necessary curb and gutter to handle the water from rain. this causes localized flooding. In essence the water from this neighborhood unfortunately floods through a few yards. The Council has received numerous complaints and we are asking the neighborhood for their input. We can use ditches to slow the water, build up to date curb and gutter improvements or leave as is. The first option is less expensive but would eat up a lot of land, destroy many mature trees and cost home owners on average $4,500. The second option is more expensive at an average cost of $6,600 but would bring the system up to modern standards. The city as a whole would still be picking up a majority of the cost. There is no good option here to fix a past planning mistake. The curb and gutters should have been installed when the area was first built to handle the water runoff issue.

Another option I will ask about is what would the impact of rain gardens throughout the entire neighborhood have. Is this a plausible option and would the residents be willing to take on this low impact option.

The second major street project is upgrading the existing sanitary and storm sewer bottlenecks. This includes the area of 2nd ave from Spirit Brook to Elizabeth, Elizabeth Street from 2nd Ave to BNSF, Alley west of BNSF and Broadway at alley intersection.

The Council will be awarding a bid to have our water and sewer rates studied. This study will include the water treatment plant and an option without it. Once we receive the outcome of the studies The Council will decide the final rates and how to fund the water treatment plant.

The special assessment for petitioned projects (429) is one of those items that quickly make you fall to sleep except for the fact they can cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The idea behind these 429 projects is that if a group of land owners agree they can ask the city to build the road and utilities infrastructure and assess back 100% of the cost to the landowners. The current process however does not charge enough for city staff time and carrying cost of money---since the city acts as the banker. It is critically important that the city makes development pay for itself.

The police lieutenant position will add a necessary supervisor to our Police department. We had originally worked to hire a Sergeant but we received a number of union complaints about the process and the position classification. It was important to us to have a position that would still have a majority of policing activity but not be in the current union so supervision of officers would not be an issue. With the passage of this position we will hire a lieutenant and if filled by a current department employee we will add another patrol officer as well. This will give us a net gain of 1 police position.

The Council has for the first time has put teeth into nuisance abatement. We have been frustrated however by the amount of time it takes to resolve these nuisances. The City Attorney will present a way to dramatically improve the time line for a number of the nuisances.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome Back Veterans 2007


Vietnam Veterans Chapter #684 presents
Welcome Back Veterans 2007!

Date: Friday, October 26

Where: Spectacular Events
Isanti, MN

Social: 6:00 pm
Dinner: 7:00 pm

Extensive Silent Auction

Dinner Tickets: $40:00

Please join us in celebrating the return of our
modern era Veterans!

Sponsor a Table of 10 that would include
2 Veterans and their spouses or a total of
4 Veterans for $400.00!

Also, if you know of a recently returned
Veteran please call 763-444-4554 to place
their name on the referral list.

Tickets available at: Minnco Credit Union’s 4 locations -
American Family Insurance - Isanti DJ’s Grill House &
The Isanti Chamber of Commerce or by calling 763-444-4554

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Isanti County on Verge of Tax Increase

Unfortunately the Isanti County Board looks to be raising county taxes. They will be holding a follow-up meeting September 25th at 9:00 am to complete discussions on the preliminary budget and property tax levy. I had greater hopes that Isanti County would follow the leadership of The City of Isanti and reduce spending and taxes...at the very least not raises taxes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rambling Rave

Well tonight's Council meeting unfortunately had yet another rambling rave by Mr. Iverson. I did not comment when he made his goofy remarks a few weeks ago and asked that I resign as Mayor and leave town. Engaging someone who has such a causal relationship with the facts is unnecessary.

I do however feel compelled to comment on his ridiculous claim tonight that the behavior of the City of Isanti and I towards him, equates to the brutal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Nazis.

Counts vary but the total is roughly 20,000,000 to 25,000,000 men, women and children killed on the Eastern Front. Again counts vary but of this number 13,000,000 to 18,000,000 were civilians.

Mr. Iverson's statement is a great insult to the tragic loss of life in the face of the most heinous regime in human history. I do not know if I should be offended by his statement or simply pity its author for his complete lack of knowledge and understanding of his comments.

Community Center Reroof Project

The community build project to reroof Isanti's community center is moving along nicely. This all volunteer project will provide much needed repairs to our community center. Josh Fedder of Million Dollar Homes and Jan Peterson of the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce and Realty Executives are taking the lead on this project.

Here is the posting and link from the Isanti City Website with all the details:


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED


The City is seeking volunteers to assist in the following areas for the re-roofing of the Community Center. Types of volunteers needed are:
· Adults who have skills in re-roofing, please bring appropriate tools.
· Adults to do ground work (placing shingles in dumpsters – picking up nails – general clean up, etc.)

The project is scheduled for Saturday, September 22nd and will start at 7:00 a.m. at the Community Center located at 208.5 1st Avenue North (north of Isanti City Hall).

This project has been coordinated by the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce and the City thanks Jan Peterson and Josh Fedder for organizing the project.

A thank you to the Lions who will be volunteering their time on the project as well as serving food.

Contacts:
Josh Fedder 763-286-1697
Jan Peterson 612-716-1703
Rick Sames 763-444-5512
(City of Isanti Building Inspector)

http://www.ci.isanti.mn.us/

Isanti Fall Music Fest Thanks

I would like to thank the Isanti Fall Music Fest Committee and especially Jan Peterson for all the hard work they put into Saturday's event. It was a lot of fun. The Isanti Ambassador's did a great job getting the dancing going. The involved all the kids and really were the life of the party. Again, thank you for all the hard work and representing Isanti so well.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Property Tax Update

I see in the local papers once again our neighboring cities are all uniformly raising their property taxes, one by over 16% in the preliminary levy. I do not state this to add injury to our neighbors but to simply draw a contrasting note.

The majority of the Council voted to support my spending reductions and tax cut plan. Placing Isanti on a firm and responsible economic footing will bring benefits for years to come.

I would also like our business community to take note. Property taxes hit businesses harder than anyone. My Long Term Financial Plan is taking shape. This incredibly important tool allows us to manage our City's finances and to avoid the poor planning of the past. The ever improving commercial tax base will help fuel Isanti's continued growth and economic development.

Isanti has an ever improving climate for locating and expanding commercial opportunities. Pass the word along...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Main Street Free Barbecue

Friday, October 5 from noon to 2:00 PM the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce will be having a Renew Main Street Free Barbecue. It will be held at 30 West Main. Brian Ross from Hometown Minnesota, Inc. will be the speaker.
Please RSVP to admin@isantichamber.com or call Diane at 763-444-8515

Brian will discuss creating and implementing design goals for our community's downtown and how to make our community's downtown stand out as a vibrant asset which requires successfully integrating economic, social, and visual elements of the downtown and the larger community.

Please plan on attending this important event.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Isanti Fall Music Fest Repost

Isanti Fall Music Fest

Isanti is hosting the 5th annual Fall Music Fest September 15, 2006 on Main Street. Once again, the Festival will offer a classic car show, street vendors, a street dance featuring the White Sidewalls and a beer garden.The Isanti Fall Music Fest Committee is continuing on the path of making this festival enjoyable for all ages.

Activities start at 2pm. The Color Guard will present at 5:45 followed by my official welcome. The White Sidewalls start playing at 6pm.

The Festival will have family friendly activities such as various street vendors, moonwalk, potato painting, face painting, duck pond, scavenger hunt, sack racing, and tug of war. New Activities for all ages this year are a Cake Walk and The Chicken Raffle. I am looking forward to this great city event.

This is a great event and I hope everyone will come out and have some free fun.

If you have any questions please contact Isanti Fall Music Fest Chairperson Jan Peterson at 763-444-9090.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tax Update

The preliminary levy amounts are in for each of the municipalities in Isanti County. I am proud to announce Isanti is the only City to lower its property tax rates.

Isanti faced a 21% reduction in our Local Government Aid and a dramatic drop off in developer/building fees due to the housing crash. The majority of the Council made the hard decisions and cut spending to reduce our taxes by 5%. It is not always about how much money you make but how much you spend.

I hope everyone takes notice of the different reactions to tough economic news. Isanti is working hard to increase our commercial tax base so we may continue to lower property taxes, create jobs and provide goods and services our residents need and want. As City government becomes more fiscally responsible trust will be garnered by our citizens and businesses alike.

In the third installment of Isanti's Fiscal Future I will detail how Isanti is saving tax dollars and improving services to our citizens.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Preliminary Budget and Levy Update

Well we did it. With a vote of 3-2, CM Duff, Kolb and I voting in favor, the Council set the preliminary budget and property tax levy. We cut spending and reduced the levy by 5% to 60%. The first actual cut in budgeted city spending for nearly a decade, possibly longer. My records only go back as far as 2000.

To give a point of reference, I have included the levy % since 2001 when rapid residential growth started. 2002 levy was the first year that responded to the rapid growth. This also shows the argument that rapid residential growth pays for itself is nothing short of false. What follows is the year and the actual tax levy as a percentage of actual expenses.


2001---45%
2002---73%
2003---72%
2004---72%
2005---69%
2006---64%
2007---65%
2007 is a budgeted number that is trending closer to 70% year to date.
2008---60% preliminary passed September 4th 2007.

-
Our tax dollars have been paying the cost of residential development. My goal is that development pays for itself. I will not give up on that goal.
The state average of 55% is within reach over the next two years. Isanti has faced the predictable issues of drastically reduced Local Government Aid and builder/development fees drying up. Isanti has faced this not by raising taxes as many city's do but by reigning in spending and cutting taxes.
-
This is a great accomplishment for our community and should be trumpeted throughout the region. I think it is also important to note that the reason we have two new Council Members and a new Mayor is because the City was on the wrong track. We are moving aggressively to correct past decisions. I also believe it proves elections matter. Who we pick to represent us is more important now than ever.
-
I promised to fight to lower taxes. I presented a plan and it was approved by a majority of the Council that also desires to make Isanti a better City. CM Duff and Kolb should be commended for making the hard decisions that had to be made.
-
We still have a lot of work to do but tonight was a great victory. I am happy to have delivered on another campaign promise.

Monday, September 03, 2007

September 4th Council Meeting

The 2008 preliminary levy will be set at the September 4th City Council meeting. I have put forward a plan that will reduce the levy rate by 5%. The 5% levy rate reduction from last year’s 65% to 60% of our tax capacity brings us half way to my three year goal of the state average of a 55% levy rate. We should also not forget the initial budget proposal had a 70% proposed property tax levy rate.

In a period of difficult financial times it is important to note Isanti is reducing taxes and spending. We are getting our financial house in order as we face greater uncertainties. The solid fiscal base will give us greater flexibility no matter what the future brings.

I am adding links to three previous pieces that might give some greater clarity of Isanti’s fiscal state without rewriting everything thing here---

http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2007/07/isantis-fiscal-future-part-1.html

http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2007/08/isantis-fiscal-future-part-2.html

http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2007/08/august-21st-budget-special-session.html

The Council will be receiving an update on the water treatment plant process. The test plant process went well. We will be able to treat for the cancer causing radium and the hard water causing iron and manganese. The next step is to decide when we will be building the facility. This decision will then help give a time table for the varied financial options. I will keep you updated on this important project.

The next item on the agenda I want to discuss is the proposed 2008 street and sidewalk project along historic Elizabeth and Broadway. This project failed last year because several council members wanted to force sidewalks into this area. I have been opposed to destroying these sensitive neighborhoods by tearing down mature trees and virtually eliminating front yards. The lots in these low traffic areas were not designed to support sidewalks. I believe it is important to protect Distinctive Isanti Neighborhoods.

If we are going to add sidewalks to the city lets place them where they are needed, along highway 5 and 23. $126,000 of taxpayer money is slated for the sidewalk portion of this project. Let’s put it where it is most needed and will add tremendous safety value to Isanti.

The agenda has 18 major items---some of which have subsets....there may very well be some other items that will generate some energy....I will let you know after the meeting.....