We have had a busy summer and we are rolling into an exciting fall. The primary has narrowed the field of hopefuls for the four-year term Council seats down to four candidates. The November election will pick two winners who will serve until 2016. A two-year seat is also on the ballot in November; and that winner will serve until 2014. We have the potential of having 3 new faces on our City Council.
The Council has voted to withdraw from the Isanti County Economic Development Authority (EDA). This was necessary to protect our taxpayers from being further taxed by the County. I am however saddened that the County EDA has not been able to fulfill even the basic requirements of our membership. I chaired the Committee; that over 5 years ago, created the County EDA with the hope that it would help better direct County and regional resources to help spur economic growth. The #1 goal for the County EDA was to make the fundamental decision as to what type of organization it would be – would it develop into a group that would spearhead business growth in our area or work in a cooperative way with the cities in our County that are already doing EDA work. Unfortunately, in over 5 years of existence, it has not succeeded in making this initial decision. All the while under the County Board’s supervision; tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on consultants and County Board member pay, and not one new business to show for it. Over the last year the Board has been discussing using its County EDA taxing authority to create a new property tax to levy on top of the existing taxes we already pay. Again, there is no goal for this money other than to accumulate a pot of funds. By taking the action, of formally withdrawing from the County EDA, we are protecting our taxpayers from this unfortunate situation. Braham has never joined as they felt the Board would certainly not be of any help to them and did not want to risk being taxed. The only city left in the County EDA is Cambridge along with all the townships as they unfortunately have no ability to leave the County EDA under state law. We will continue to work with the County and try to foster a clear vision of success.
Isanti has seen a great revival in our industrial park. In the last few years, 8 new and expanding businesses have bought buildings in our industrial park. Three vacant buildings have been purchased and occupied so far in 2012; leaving only a couple vacant buildings left. Our economic development team has been working diligently to help expand our tax base and ensure we continue to foster good paying jobs. We have done this by ensuring that our industrial park has competitive incentives, infrastructure and ordinances that maintain property values and ease of use.
Legacy Park which is roughly a 20-acre parcel of wooded land abutting the Rum River in the City’s northwest quadrant; will have a trail completed in September. This ADA compliant amenity offers public access to a natural area in our community that generations to come will be able to enjoy. There is often criticism of parks and trails, but we negotiated to receive this land for free. The low cost trail will have minimal maintenance cost while offering another unique recreational outlet for people of all ages and abilities.
The last item I want to discuss is the Long Term Financial Plan I developed when I first took office. We are right on track with our 7th budget that has no tax increase and spending at levels less than 2006. Property values have leveled off as planned, vacant homes are down 60%, 363 foreclosed homes have sold, industrial properties are selling fast and a few new homes are being built. We still have difficult times ahead but our plan is working. Some items are unpopular, like nuisance control, but it is also a key element in maintaining our City’s overall property values and ensuring that the homes, businesses and lots we have for sale are filled or developed; and to help diversify our tax base. All the numbers are pointing to a brighter future so long as we keep faith in our long term plan.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact me at 763-442-8749 or email me at George@georgewimmer.com . You may also follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/mayorwimmer Facebook at www.facebook.com/MayorGeorgeWimmer or my blog at georgewimmer.blogspot.com