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.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2008 Arctic Plunge

The Arctic Plunge is coming up soon. March 1st at Captians on Long Lake. I am placing a link here and to the left if you are interested in jumping. This makes my third year jumping and second year sponsoring. The Plunge captures our community spirit of giving. I am enclosing a few words from the Plunge Website:

"Each year the committee determines the event beneficiary. This year's beneficiary is the Isanti County Safety and Rescue.

Please join us for a fun filled family day on March 1st! The event start at 10:00AM with Vintage Snowmobile Races sponsored by the Long Lake Improvement Association. The old fashioned Ice Cutting demonstration begins at 1:00 PM. Brought to you by the Englund Family. Finally, the much anticipated ARCTIC PLUNGE begins at 2:00PM. This year we will have two sets of bleachers for your convenience. Tell your friends and come early to get a good seat!"

Go to http://www.arcticplunge.com/ for more information and to look at the Zodiac last year's fund raiser bought for Isanti County and Rescue.

Everyone needs to help make this event a success....plunge and help raise money for Isanti Safety and Rescue...the money you raise may one day help save your life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Email Working

My email is now working. Thank you for your patience.

Email Down

My email has been down since last night. I will post when my email is back up. If you have tried to email me please email me again after it is up an going again. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Isantian Article

Hello from the Desk of the Mayor

By: Mayor George A. Wimmer

2007 has been a transformative year for Isanti. We started the year with five Council goals, three centered on improving commercial growth, another on a Long Term Financial Plan and lastly a Water Treatment Plant. I am happy to report success on each front. Isanti has experienced two major business expansions and at least 15 new businesses opening their doors this year.

Main Street Revitalization has moved forward this year. I want to highlight the Qwest Expansion along with Bear Books and American Family Insurance. The Qwest expansion was needed because of our past and future growth. The Qwest building was beautifully built and landscaped to fit Main Street’s historic architecture. The new Bear Books store is a model of future Main Street businesses. Mark Rojas of Bear Books has created a wonderful book store and has gone the extra step of cross marketing with Rendezvous Coffee on Highway 5. This type of entrepreneurship is what makes a Main Street vibrant. Stop in and see his wide variety of books for all ages. Jaysen Guthmueller of American Family Insurance has moved to Main Street. He is the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce President and has taken the lead on Main Street revitalization. He believes in it so much that he is buying the building he recently occupied on Main Street and being the change he envisions.

I want to highlight one of the new businesses which came to Isanti this year. Ever Cat Fuels is a project brought to the City by Landmark Community Bank. In March, staff and I started working on locating this cutting edge, green technology bio-diesel Company to Isanti. The partnership of the City, Landmark and Ever Cat is a model that has brought great results. High paying jobs, numerous spin off potentials, $5,000,000 facility investment keeping our construction workers busy, clean & green technology, are all reasons we worked very hard to make it a reality. This facility puts Isanti on the leading edge of the green and alternative fuels wave. Over 50 people attended the ground breaking December 6th along with representatives from Congressman Oberstar, Congresswoman Bachman as well as State Senator Olseen.

I have dedicated myself to increasing commercial growth so we can provide the products/services, jobs and property tax revenue needed to build a fiscally healthy Isanti. I look forward to an even greater 2008 in commercial growth.

This folds in nicely with the next success of 2007. Isanti was able to cut property taxes. Isanti faced several thorny financial realities. The drop off of development and builder fees along with a 21% cut in Local Government Aid made budgeting difficult. A Staff position was cut in Building Inspections. The Council did fully fund a Police Lieutenant position, a replacement patrol officer and the Community Service Officer position.

We held City spending level with last year. Keeping Isanti affordable through lower property taxes helps residents as well as attracting new businesses to Isanti. Commercial property pays about 50% more in taxes and uses less City services than residential property. The more businesses we attract the lower our taxes will go. My first year as a Council Member in 2005 our City tax rate was 74.21%. The levy for 2008 passed this year at 59.91%.

The last City Council Goal I want to update you on is the Water Treatment Plant. There has been a lot of planning and discussion on this topic. The Council approved the Water Treatment Plant and revenue source at the December 4th Council meeting. The plant is planned to come on line at the end of 2009 and providing water by early 2010.

I wanted to thank the Citizens of Isanti for letting me serve you as Mayor. There has been a tremendous amount of work this year to make our goals a reality and I have loved every minute of it. It is an honor and a privilege to represent our great City.

Please contact me at George@GeorgeWimmer.com or 763-444-7158 with any questions, comments or concerns.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Few Christmas Quotes

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year - and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority. ~W.J. Cameron

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

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

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

“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 quotes

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” ~Larry Wilde

I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant 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. ~Charles Dickens

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, Lying in a manger. ~ St. Luke 2:10-12

Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit. ~Anonymous

Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present. ~Anonymous

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Council 12-18-07 Update

We picked up two more votes for the final Budget Tuesday to make it a 5-0. I was happy to see the Budget and Levy were both passed by 5-0 votes. The fiscal discipline in the budget will prepare us for the future. Next year will be a tougher process as the mortgage and foreclosure debacle continues and possibly worsens undercutting property tax and utility payments. Tuesday was a good night for the City but I have already started working on the 2009 budget process because our decisions will be even tougher.

Did anyone notice the only local city, county or school district that did not get big spreads about taxes was Isanti? Perhaps that is because Isanti was the only one in the region to actually cut taxes. We are now officially at a 59.91% levy rate.

The Council voted 3-2 to move forward with the liquor store expansion process, Duff and I voted against. I voted against for all the reasons I have stated so many times before.

I will be posting my Isantian article here in a few days along with my 2008 priorities.

Monday, December 17, 2007

December 18th Council Meeting

The last Council meeting of the year has 18 agenda items but will center on the levy, budget, liquor store and an exciting new company we have been working with.

The property tax levy will be presented at 59.91%, the lowest in the region. This is made possible by using fiscal discipline in the budgeting process. It has been a long process and a few points still have to be agreed to at Tuesday's nights meeting, but it has set Isanti on the right course. The 2008 budget took a lot of work and many hard decisions.

With all this the 2009 budget we start working on in a few months will be 10 times harder as the housing debacle and all it entails will be hitting us full force next year. It was critically important to keep City spending low this year in anticipation of the 2009 budget work that is in store for us all.

The request has come up again to go out for bids on the architecture of the liquor store. I just do not see the point at this time. The reality of the numbers as I have laid out in the past just do not make this an option. I will not go over this all again here as I have give all my reasons previously. We simply need to make the repairs that are needed and move on.

I wanted to highlight another business we have been working on bringing to town. Hi-Lo Manufacturing is a sixty-year-old manufacturing firm with both a product and CNC contract machining business. They will be in front of the Council asking to assume the requirements of a previous business agreement. This means that a now empty building in our industrial will be bursting with activity. Hi-Lo will be looking to expand as they have also asked for an option of a further parcel of land. This will be their head quarters facility. There are roughly 40 current employees with good wages in this machining company. I would anticipate another 10 good paying jobs in the next two years.

I will keep you posted as always.

Email Down

My email has been down most of the day and hope to get it back in an hour or two. If you sent me an email please resend it in case it has been lost. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Neighborhood Watch

Villages On The Rum Neighborhood Watch Meeting

Wednesday: December 12, 2007
7:00 p.m. @ City Hall

On the Agenda:
Discussion on light installation in Riverside Park.
Creating "safe houses" in the neighborhood.
Updates on homeless man down by the river.
Miscellaneous neighborhood discussion.
Police Chief Ron Sager will answer our questions.
I will also be attending.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Truth in Taxation Update

I wanted to share some of the facts presented at last nights meeting.

The first set of numbers is the level of City expenditures by year:

2004----$ 1,576,920.00

2005----$ 2,168,170.00

2006----$ 2,856,136.00

2007----$ 3,481,635.00

2008----$ 3,495,443.00

The levy rate from 2002 to next years as will be presented December 18th.

Year-----Levy Rate







Our City expenditures have leveled off for 2008 and our tax levy continues to decrease.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ever Cat Fuels Ground Breaking

Ever Cat Fuels is breaking ground on the Bio-diesel plant December 6th. This is a great triumph for Isanti. I have enclosed a link to a past post to bring you up to speed if you are unaware of the project.


Ever Cat Fuels Website


Truth in Taxation

The City of Isanti's Truth in Taxation hearing will be held at Isanti City Hall December 5th at 7pm.

December 4th Council Update

The Council tonight handled several difficult decisions that will have lasting impact on our Community. The two major decisions regarding the water treatment plant and City membership on the County EDA led to some vigorous debate. The third item was the liquor store expansion.

The City Council voted unanimously to raise City water rates $10.47 per 7,000 gallons per month. This will take the rate from $21.62 to $32.09 or an increase of 34 cents a day. I have written and spoken about this extensively. This rate increase was the only way the City could honestly pay for the water treatment plant and the water treatment plant is the only way the City can guarantee healthy drinkable water.

As a father of an almost three old beautiful girl and a five year old amazing son, I could not fathom the idea of their long term health could be impacted by cancer causing radium. This is a hard fact all parents face…a fact all residents face. This simply came down to a health and safety issue. We must ensure our water is safe. If a City is unable to do that then there is no reason to have a City.

Isanti is currently blending water from separate wells to keep radium content at a safe level. This will only work if the levels in the one good well remain low and the levels in the two higher volume wells does not increase. We are also in a situation that we can not use both high volume wells at the same time because we do not have enough safe water to blend with from the low volume low radium well.

With the votes tonight to provide the revenue for the water treatment plant and to start the design phase we are on track to have a completed facility by the end of 2009 and full operation by the beginning of 2010. This long lead time was another reason to start this project as soon as possible.

There is not a single Council Member that wanted to raise the rates and we all understood the impact of this decision. The entire Council however has been working on this issue and has seen the serious facts we face. We can not stick our heads in the sand and wish away the radium issue nor can we pretend we have the money coming in by using inflated estimates as was done with the east 65 debacle.

I wish the City had raised development fees years ago to cover such infrastructure cost but it did not. I wish the City had started to reserve money for the project years ago, but it did not. There are many things I wish were handled differently in the past but I can not rewrite history.

Conservative revenue projections were used relating to future growth in order to make sure we are able to fund the project and not build up any more devastating debt. The plant will be built using a low interest state loan which we qualify for because of the radium issue. The plant will also bring the high levels of iron and manganese under control.

The next item is the County EDA. The Council on a vote of 3-2 voted to opt into the County EDA. CM Duff and I voted against because we have not received any description of what the county EDA intends to do or how much they are looking to tax County Residents. With too many questions outstanding we felt we needed more answers to questions before we moved forward. We were however out voted. I was recommended by the Council to Commissioner Pagel to represent the City on the County EDA and to make sure our City’s interest were protected. The appointment as a non-voting member to the County EDA is Commissioner Pagels. The County EDA’s membership is made up of the five county Commissioners and 1 non-voting member from each commissioner district.

The County EDA could accomplish great things if it is organized in the right way with the right mission. The EDA will be a success or failure by the decisions in its first few meetings. I will keep you updated on its development. We have witnessed a birth…a birth of what I do not as of now know…

The liquor store renovation was halted tonight but not completely killed. The votes were not there to go ahead with the unneeded and costly renovation but the votes were not there to outright end further discussion either. Everyone seemed to agree that the partial numbers we received were not enough to base a decision on…that’s a good thing. There was however a consensus to get accurate information before a final decision was made. I do not think a renovation can be done at a cost the City could afford. I am hopeful that if accurate numbers can be together the vast majority if not all members will see the City just can not afford a renovation that reduces liquor store profits to the general fund. I might be dreaming but I hope common sense can prevail.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Liquor Store by the Numbers II

The Finance Committee met Friday and staff presented us with their numbers. Ok so the initial quotes presented at the last Council meeting was $600,000 and for my analysis I used $700,000. Well Staff's information places the total cost with contingencies at $799,500.

There is $225,000 in available cash from the liquor fund after cash needed for operations is deducted. To be clear this is only "extra" if the city does not transfer it to the general fund to pay for city services which helps keep property taxes down. We will come back to this later...

So we have $225,000 in the liquor fund to lower the $799,500 to $574,500. Staff put together the debt payment schedule for a 15 and 20 year pay back. I am going to use the 15 year since it is cheaper. Each amount is the yearly payment amount for the next 15 years.

  • $500,000 borrowed = $46,557
  • $600,000 borrowed = $55,868
  • $700,000 borrowed = $65,180
So back to our net profit analysis from the last post. A 7% net profit yields $7,000 for every $100,000 in sales. $46,557 in debt payments would need $665,000 in new sales or a 35% increase in sales just to cover the new debt payment. This is pure fantasy...
If the expansion yielded a 10% increase in sales, which I think would be quite good considering city growth has slowed to a crawl. Liquor store sales grew 20% from 2003 to 2006. It took 4 years of rapid residential growth to increase sales by 20%. I think 10% in one year with an expansion and no city growth is generous.
10% increase from, lets be generous, $2,000,000 at the end of this year will give us an extra $200,000 in sales. 7% of $200,000 is $14,000. So lets extrapolate this all the way out. $14,000 increase in net profit could make debt payments on $150,000 borrowed over 15 years.
$150,000 plus the $225,000 of cash on hand gets us to $375,000. This however wipes out the cash on hand and gets us exactly no more money to the general fund than we have today. In a few years the growth might get us a few more dollars coming in but then we need to also calculate the lost value of the $225,000 on hand. Simple 5% gives us $11,500 in interest or almost the equivalent a $150,000 would bring to our bottom line.
There are some needs that have to be addressed for a building and equipment that is nearing 20 years. We need a new cooler, registers and some of the exterior block needs to be sealed. We have had issues with the sprinkler system and these need to be addressed. A roof will be needed in about 5 years. All I am asking is that we fix what needs to be fixed so we can get to a point where the market either makes a new store or a sale of the existing store feasible. We are no where near that point.
Last point on that "extra" $225,000. If this is used and the existing sales have to pay for the expansion there will be very little to transfer to the general fund to help off set property taxes. I want to see a budget from those Council Members who push this through that does not dramatically increase property taxes or cut essential city services.
The decision is clear. We need to be conservative with our financial resources to keep taxes low. It was bad decisions like this that has caused City debt to balloon. Decisions that subsidized development at the cost of the tax payer. Decisions that make a needed water treatment plant fall almost entirely on our citizens when this infrastructure should have been paid mostly by development. Our City faces tough decisions, a little more liquor will not wash away the harm of the past nor will it blind us to the course we must follow.