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, February 26, 2009

Pedestrian Bridge Funding

We received notification that on February 25th, 2008, the House of Representatives approved the Omnibus Appropriations Act. The City Of Isanti will receive $950,000 towards the construction of the Pedestrian Bridge that has been proposed to span over Trunk Highway 65, providing a safe crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. This has not been sign into law and can still see changes.

We will be amending our current request for the 2010 funding cycle for the remainder of the funds needed to complete this project, when the Omnibus Appropriations Act is sign into law. These dollars will help ensure a safe east west connection as our City continues to grow to the east. The time table of growth has slowed for Isanti but future population growth is planned to the east of highway 65. The trail system associated with this project will extend to the Intermediate School.

The Bike/Walk trail that will begin construction this spring connects Isanti to Cambridge is a great north/south compliment to the pedestrian bridge that will connect east and west. Both projects have regional significance to future development of our community.

Neighborhood Stabilization Program Success

The City of Isanti was awarded $552,855 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds today by MHFA. This program helps qualified buyers purchase foreclosed homes with down payment assistance and/or to repair damage done to a foreclosed home.

This program will help get qualified buyers into foreclosed homes and remove the negative impacts to our communities from these properties. The sooner we can get these homes filled the better it is for all the neighboring homes. This program also helps get these homes back on the tax rolls and helps alleviate our tax revenue issues. I am very excited that Isanti was able to succeed in securing these funds. Central Minnesota Housing Partnership Inc. will be administrating these funds for us at no cost to the City.

Our Isanti Foreclosure Program helped lay the ground work to receive these funds. This is a great day for Isanti.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Proposed language for Student Representative

The Council will be acting on the Park and Recreation recommendation to add a student Representative to the Park and Rec Board. I wanted to try to be more inclusive of the opinions of those that use many of our great amenities. The Council will take this item up at the next Council meeting.

This is the proposed language for a student representative on the Park and Recreation Board.



Student Representative to the Park and Recreation Board

The City of Isanti Park and Recreation Board are seeking a student representative to actively serve on the Board. The members of the Park and Recreation Board encourage all students meeting the qualifications as provided within this announcement to apply for the position. Details regarding the position, duties, and application requirements have been provided below.

Qualifications
· High school student (ages 14-18).
· A resident of the City of Isanti.
· Has an interest in local government and / or park and recreation issues.

Description and Duties
The position is a one-year commitment. The individual must have a strong sense of responsibility for the duties that are assigned to the position. The student member is expected to attend monthly meetings. The Park Board meets the fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at City Hall in the Council chambers.

The student representative will strive to identify and satisfy the general needs of the youth of the community; and will actively provide their perspective on park related issues. The student representative will also be responsible for submitting a quarterly written article to the Isantian, which discusses student-focused opportunities and interests. (The maintenance / development of a regular column for students.)

To Apply:
Please review and submit the following:

1. Read the requirements and description / duties for the position.

2. Write a letter of intention explaining what you can offer to the Park and Recreation Board and how you think you could best serve as a student representative on the Board.

3. Include two (2) letters of recommendation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Isantian Article

We have quite the year ahead of us. I want to first welcome our newest member to the Isanti City Council, Ross Lorinser. He was appointed to fill the remaining two years of former Council Member Duff’s term.

The City Council held its annual Goal Setting session and established the following goals:
  • Complete the Long Term Financial Plan
  • Increase Commercial Tax Base
  • Disaster Plan
  • New Personnel Policy
  • City Multi Modal Transportation Plan

We have a few items to complete on the LTFP and creating a reader friendly summary to communicate to our Citizens and Taxpayers. Increasing our commercial tax base is a key to our future development as a City. The Disaster Plan is a tool that helps us operate during crisis situations of all types such as a natural disaster but also if we lose key personnel. A new personnel policy is needed to deal with the many changes Isanti has experienced in the past few years. Having the appropriate policies in place saves us time and money in the long run. The City multi-model transportation plan is intended to make sure all of our transportation issues are addressed. This includes a road frontage system on the west side of 65, park & rides, integrated transit system linking to the metro, railroad and pedestrian uses.

The other major area I wanted to touch upon is the City’s budget situation. We should all be aware of the state deficit crisis and how it has trickled its way down to Isanti. The state certified Local Government Aid (LGA) payments have been cut for 2008 and the foreseeable future. Isanti has already dealt with an $112,000 cut at the end of 2008 and the Governor’s budget cuts a further $140,075 in 2009 and $292,591 for 2010. This lost revenue coupled with over $274,620.44 in delinquent taxes and $220,069.55 in deliquent special assessments makes budgeting difficult. The Governor’s budget balanced a $4.8 billion deficit which is anticipated to grow to over $7 billion so these numbers may get worse.

When a city is told the certified LGA amount they put that number into their budget. In past years Isanti would have budgeted the certified amount into the current year and the state would have paid the full amount to the City by the end of that year. With the state failing to live up to its obligation, twice in the past 5 years, it would be a dereliction of duty if the Council continued to trust the state’s ability to fulfill its responsibility.

In response to this situation I have proposed and the Council enacted a fundamental shift in how we use LGA. I call it the LGA Flip for lack of a better term. We are flipping the LGA ahead a year. To do this we have cut spending, increased the liquor store transfer and borrowed from our ample fund reserves. The loan will be paid back on a 5 year no interest term. This allows us to use whatever amount the state finally decides to pay Isanti in 2009 for the 2010 budget. This will be cash in hand and a true number to budget with. This process will forever eliminate the devastation caused by any future unalloment. The LGA Flip gives Isanti greater control of our budgeting process.

We face difficult times but as proven by our recently attained A+ credit rating our disciplined fiscal approach is working. We have already saved roughly $130,000 by leveraging our improved credit rating. Our service level continues to rise even in these challenging times. I look forward to the grand openings of our nearly completed economic development projects, Ever Cat Fuels and Isanti Retail Meats, which will provide dozens of new good paying jobs.

There is so much more to discuss but my space is limited. I hope to continue hearing from our Citizens and Taxpayers through email, phone calls and visits during my office hours.

If you have any questions please contact me at george@georgewimmer.com ,763-444-7158 or 763-442-8749.

State of the City Delayed

The State of the City will be delayed for the week. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

State of the City

I will be presenting portions of my State of the City at the Chamber of Commerce Lunch Wednesday February 18th. I will discuss parts of my speech while presenting a power point to convey the issues at hand and their solutions. I will also use part of the time to answer any questions from the audience.

If you care to attend you need to contact the Chamber of Commerce at (763) 444-8515admin@isantichamber.com to RSVP.

The full text of the State of the City is planned to be published Friday February 20th.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Repost - Isanti County Deputy Chad Meyer Benefit

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 5 p.m.

Isanti Community Center208 1/2 1st Avenue NW

(All proceeds will go to Deputy Meyer for his recovery)Spaghetti Dinner
5 to 8:30 p.m. - $10 per personChildren 12 and under - $5 eachand Silent Auction5 to 8:30 p.m.
Deputy Meyer was struck by a vehicle while assisting at a traffic accident and will be unable to work for 5 months due to his injuries.

Pre-sale tickets available at: Isanti County Law Enforcement AssociationPO Box 428Isanti MN 55040

Donations accepted at: Cambridge State Bank, c/o Chad Meyer127 South Main Street, PO Box 472Cambridge MN 55008

Silent auction items are needed!Contact Chief Ron Sager, at (763) 444-4761 orchiefsager@cityofisanti.us, for more information.

Thanks to Isanti Lions and Blaine Jaycees for helping to sponsor this event!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 17th Council Agenda

AGENDA
CITY OF ISANTI
CITY COUNCIL MEETING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2009
CITY HALL


Call to Order
B. Pledge of Allegiance
C. Roll Call
D. Adopt Agenda

E. Proclamations/Commendations/Certificate Awards

F. Approve City Council Minutes
January 20, 2009 - Regular Meeting of the City Council

G. Citizens Input

H. Announcements
1. Park & Recreation Board Meeting Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
2. EDA Meeting Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
3. City Council Meeting Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
6. Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.


I. Council Committee Reports

J. Public Hearings


K. Business Items
1. Request for Reimbursement of Charges to thaw Frozen Waterline – Wade Sorenson
(City Administrator Don Lorsung)
2. Council Committee Assignment Responsibilities
(Mayor Wimmer)

City Planner Lisa Krause

3. Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 445: Zoning Ordinance – Relating to Provisions for Recreational Vehicle Repair and Outdoor Storage
4. Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 254: Subdivision Ordinance – Relating to Administration and Enforcement
5. Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 445: Zoning Ordinance – Section 6 – Residential Districts
6. Resolution Authorizing Application for Federal Funding for Pedestrian Bridge Construction and Accepting Scope of Services by Bolton & Menk, Inc.

City Engineer Brad DeWolf

7. Resolution Approving WWTF Painting Change Order

Public Works Director Pat Meyer
8. Resolution Authorizing Equipment Purchase

City Attorney Clark Joslin

9. Ordinance Adopting City Code

City Administrator Don Lorsung

10. Council Appointment to Labor Management Committee
11. Ordinance Amending Chapters 8-6 and 8-7 of the City Code relating to Terms for the Planning Commission and Park & Recreation Board
11. Resolution Approving the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Cambridge and the City of Isanti for use of Building Inspection Personnel and Equipment



L. Consent Agenda

1. Approve Municipal Builders, Inc. Pay Estimate No. 7 in the amount of $117,902.25 for Work Completed on the Water Treatment Facility
2. Approve Fransen Decorating Pay Estimate No. 3 in the amount of $13,833.90 for Work Completed on the WWTF Painting Project
3. Approve Payment to Traut Wells for work completed on the Well No. 1 Rehabilitation in the Amount of $8,060 for Repair of the Well Pump and $54,665 for the Installation of a Well Screen and Filter Pack
4. Accounts Payable in the Amount of $****** and Payroll in the Amount of $67,099.16
5. Approve Minutes of the January 13, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting
6. Resolution Approving Temporary 3.2 Beer Licenses to the Blaine Jaycees
7. Resolution Approving Pawnshop License to Northern Pawn, Inc.
8. Resolution Approving On-Sale and Sunday Liquor License Renewal to Wintergreen’s Golf & Grill
9. Resolution Approving Funding Agreement between Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the City of Isanti
10. Resolution Approving Joint Agreement with Isanti Township relating to the Improvement and Maintenance of Third Avenue NW
11. Resolution Awarding Proposal to Bjorklund Trucking for Ancillary Liquor Store Parking Lot Snow Removal


M. Other Communications
1. Draft Minutes of February 10, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting
2. January 2009 Police Report
3. January Building Permit Report
4. February Engineering Project Status Report

Adjournment

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Budget Deficit

The Governor has started talking about a well known expectation - the budget deficit looks to at least be $6-$7 billion dollars. The Budget that was presented a few weeks ago balanced a $4.8 billion dollar deficit. This will lead to even more cuts and I would anticipate more cuts to local governments as a result.

The other ticking time bomb is property devaluation that will slash property taxes flowing into Cities, Counties and Schools. If this does happen or when it happens there will be another round fiscal issues facing us. I have been taking this into our budgeting process as we look at long term financial decisions and make sure we do not incur long term cost we can not afford.

Weekend Star to End

The City was informed that the Star will no longer publish a weekend addition after February 21st. This fits the trend of both local newspapers shrinking their overall size a few months ago. The cost of a free press keeps getting higher.....

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

February 3rd Council Meeting Update

The Council approved the LGA Flip this evening. This will allow the City to take back a bit more control in our budgeting process. It does not in any way insulate us from the cutting of funds to our City and the pain it causes. The Flip does provide us with more time in which to respond to the ever changing financial situation and to plan appropriately. Isanti will not ever again have to deal with turmoil of unallotment.

We filled 1 open EDA and 2 Planning Commission seats this evening. This gets up to full strength on each advisory body.

The Council was updated on the refinancing of some of our old bond issues. We took advantage of some lower rates and our A+ bond rating to save $71,679.07. Again this is a testament to our strong fiscal discipline and proper planning.

The last item I want to touch upon is the results of our Goal Setting Session. The Council ratified the Goals for 2009. The Council Goals act as our road map for the next two years and highlight important projects and policies we will dedicate City resources to. The top five goals are as follows:

  • Complete the Long Term Financial Plan
  • Increase Commercial Tax Base
  • Disaster Plan
  • New Personnel Policy
  • City Multi Modal Transportation Plan
Along with these top five goals we have other items that need to be addressed and we also assigned Committees to accomplish these task:
Personnel Committee Assignments
  • Development of a Disaster Plan
  • New Personnel Policy
  • Terms of Office for Park and Recreation and Planning Commission
  • 3 missed meetings to appointed bodies and your out policy
Building & Grounds Committee
  • Municipal Buildings Operation & Maintenance Cost Review
Public Works Committee
  • Review Nuisance and Lawn service provisions
Finance Committee
  • Update work to date and Complete Long Term Financial Plan
  • Review costs for Fire/Emergency Services
  • Review Utility Billing - in house versus contracted and the paying of City fees with credit cards with online options
EDA
  • Increasing Commercial Tax Base -Marketing Plan
  • Rail Served Industrial Park
Planning Commission / DAC
  • City Multi Modal Transportation Plan
  • Frontage Road System for Commercial Corridors
Mayor to establish intra-governmental committee to look at shared purchasing and service provision

Area Unemployment Rates

At the County meeting this Tuesday a presentation was made with information from the Work Force Center. 13 Counties unemployment rates were disclosed along with other information but I wanted to share the unemployment rates for Isanti and a few of our neighboring counties. This is nothing we have not seen or known was coming but it frames the situation we are in quite well. I will list the county name the November 2007 data then the December 2008 data:





Benton 4.0% to 7.9%

Chisago 4.9% to 9.1%

Isanti 4.9% to 9.6%

Kanabec 6.6% to 14.1%

Mille Lacs 6.2% to 12.3%

Pine 6.2% to 11.3%

Sherburne 4.3% to 8.2%

Stearns 3.8% to 7.0%

Wright 4.3% to 8.6%


Isanti County has had its unemployment rate jump 96% from end of 2007 to end of 2008. This is in comparison to the State with a rate of 4.0% in 2007 to 6.8% in 2008 or a 70% increase.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Disappointed

The County Comprehensive Plan was passed today 0n a 4-1 vote. That was expected especially since the Citizens Advisory Committee that created the plan was appointed entirely by the Commissioners. That is as I said expected, unfortunate but expected that it passed in its flawed state.

The disappointing part was Commissioner Morris's disrespectful comments that the 3rd District Commissioner should in essence not comment on the Comprehensive Plan since he was newly elected and had not participated in all the previous comp plan meetings. Ms. Morris is the new Chair of the County EDA and she has missed County EDA meetings last year - should she be disqualified for that. Why does Ms. Morris feel the 9,100 (most populous district in the county by the way with nearly 25% of the population) people living in District 3 should have no voice in this decision. At what point does she think a Commissioner is suppose to participate. I assume she was active on the Board as soon as she was sworn in just two years ago herself. If Mr. Duff agreed with her position would she have still not wanted him to speak his mind?

I hope it was a momentary lapse and not a firmly held position because it opens a slippery slope of discussion. I would have liked to direct you to the audio of the discussion so you could make up your own minds on the interchange but unfortunately our County Board does not record their meetings.

We face real problems and we will at times disagree but we all deserve the right to have our voices heard. I respect Ms. Morris and all our County Board members and hope we will continue to be able to move forward. I disagreed with this vote but that is now in the past and we must work together to make this new county comp plan effective.

I believe it was President Reagan that said our 80% friend is not our 20% enemy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

County Comprehensive Plan Discussion/Vote

The County Board of Commissioners will be discussing and possibly voting on the final draft of the County Comprehensive Plan Tuesday February 3rd at their morning Board meeting. The discussion is scheduled for 10am.

Commissioner District by Population

We have had a lot of discussion lately on the County Comprehensive Plan and who do the Commissioners represent. I am not going to weigh in on Commissioner motives but I thought it might be interesting to post the populations by district. It is commonly believed that District 4 (Commissioner Daudt) is the only district without a City. That argument can still be made but actually St Francis has grown into Athens Township. The population numbers I am using are from the State Demographer:



1st District - Commissioner Larson - 7300 - 19%
2nd District- Commissioner Sutherland - 7901 - 20%
3rd District- Commissioner Duff - 9188 - 24%
4th District - Commissioner Daudt - 6299 - 16%
5th District - Commissioner Morris - 8193 - 21%
**
This will be a discussion point when redistricting happens after the 2010 census.

3rd District Commissioner Town Hall

Commissioner Duff is holding a Town Hall meeting at Isanti City Hall 6:00 pm to 6:45 Tuesday February 3rd. If you have questions or concerns this is a prime opportunity to be heard.

State vs City

I wanted to just mention a few points that I will be writing about in greater depth in the future. The state deficit has impacted just about everyone and it has been devastating to a lot of cities and taken a big bite out of Isanti. What adds insult to injury is the State Government (Governor and Legislature), central theme that we are going to slash funds we promised to cities to balance our budget but hey we will let cities jack up your taxes to make up for it. So the State will not take the heat for raising taxes but will benefit from it as many essential services will continue to be performed by local government.

I call this the 2010 Local Anti-incumbent Act - The State is forcing local governments to raise taxes to make up the difference. Local leaders will face tough choices as they once again have their funds raided to balance the state budget. Cities are the State's rainy day fund. Many local leaders will face the wrath of their voters who will be angry by reduced services or higher taxes.

Isanti will not need to raise taxes because we have exercised fiscal discipline the last few years and through a great deal of hard work we are prepared. Isanti already buys off of state purchasing list and we are reaching out to our neighboring communities to find even more ways to save money. I will be announcing three significant items that will be helping the City at Tuesday's Council meeting.

We face many tough choices and will be hurt by the State's failure. The State however is showing its true colors, one example..... We all get the homestead credit for the home we live in. It is a great deal to be able to pay lower property taxes on our homes. The State has created this benefit and claims credit for it.

This is how it works. Homeowner pays less taxes due to the homestead credit and the local units of government get less money and the State sends a check to the local units of government for the difference. The problem starts when the State does not make its payment to the local units of government. A city gets less tax revenue and either cuts services or raises taxes to make up the difference. The State gets to claim credit for a popular tax break without actually paying the full cost. The State has talked about reducing unfunded mandates.... well this is a whopper they just created by cutting this reimbursement to hundreds of cities....

Last point - The Govenor's proposed budget balanced a nearly $5 Billion deficit when it appears that it will grow to $6 Billion to $8 Billion meaning the cuts will grow....

February 3rd Council Meeting

AGENDA
CITY OF ISANTI
CITY COUNCIL MEETING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2009
CITY HALL

Call to Order
B. Pledge of Allegiance
C. Roll Call
D. Adopt Agenda

E. Proclamations/Commendations/Certificate Awards

F. Approve City Council Minutes

January 20, 2009 – Work Session Meeting of the City Council
January 20, 2009 – Regular Meeting of the City Council
January 26, 2009 – Goal Setting Meeting of the City Council

G. Citizens Input

H. Announcements

1. Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
2. City Offices Closed Monday, February 16, 2009
(In Observance of President’s Day)
3. City Council Work Session Tuesday, February 17, 2009 – 5:45 to 6:30 p.m.
4. City Council Meeting Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
5. Park & Recreation Board Meeting Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
6. EDA Meeting Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.


I. Council Committee Reports

J. Public Hearings

K. Business Items

1. Special Event Application – Isanti Home Show 2009 – Debbie Bray

Community Development Director Carla Vita

2. Resolution to Fill Seat on the EDA Board
3. Interview Candidates for Vacant Planning Commission Seats
a. Resolution Making Appointment to Fill Vacant Planning Commission Seats
4. Resolution Approving the 2009 EDA Priority Projects

City Engineer Brad DeWolf

5. Resolution Authorizing a Preliminary Engineering Report for Improvements in the Deerhaven Addition


Finance Director Kristi Smith

6. Resolution Relating to 2009 Budget Adjustment
7. Resolution Relating to the Sale of General Obligation Crossover Refunding Bonds, Series 2009A

City Attorney Clark Joslin

8. Review Process for Adoption of City Code

City Administrator Don Lorsung

9. Resolution Approving 2009 City Council Goals


L. Consent Agenda
Accounts Payable in the Amounts of $101,444.96 and Payroll in the Amount of $71,313.32 2. Resolution Approving Local Gambling Permit to Industries, Inc.
3. Resolution Authorizing Water and Sewer Account Adjustment to RWL
4. Approval of Updated Public Works Director Job Description
5. Approval of Minutes:
a. November 25, 2008 Park & Recreation Board
b. November 25, 2008 EDA Board


M. Other Communications

1. Draft Minutes of the January 27, 2009 Park & Recreation Board Meeting
2. Draft Minutes of the January 27, 2009 EDA Meeting
3. December 2008 Building Permit Report
4. Update on Yerigan Property Zoning
5. Memorandum of Understanding with Soccer Association

Adjournment