Isanti Mayor: Times are tough, but staying positive

By Elizabeth Sias

Isanti Mayor George Wimmer said the next two years will be tough economically, but he’s optimistic for the future.

Wimmer delivered his annual State of the City presentation Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Wintergreens in front of area business owners and community leaders.

The long-term budget has been balanced to 2017, Wimmer said. City taxes have been cut by over 11 percent, but businesses are still hurting because of statewide changes such as the Homestead Credit.

“What we’ve done in our city is built up a healthy fund reserve anticipating the difficult times we’re going to have going forward,” he said. “We’ve kind of cordoned those off so they can’t be splurged on something other than what we have in our long-range financial plan.”

Wimmer also touched on what he referred to as “Minnesota’s broken promises,” citing cuts in LGA (Local Government Aid), changes to the Homestead Tax Credit program and more mandates.

Overall, the 2012 budget is lower than it was in 2006, with $500,000 in unpaid taxes and assessments, a $500,000 drop in tax capacity, a $300,000 cut in LGA, and more. Despite the changes, Wimmer said Isanti will not increase taxes.

The city continues to grow, however. One achievement is the city retaining its A+ bond rating, Wimmer said. The city also hired a new liquor store manager, as well as restructured, which lead to profits rising. The city also purchased a new police squad car. There were four new or expanding businesses in 2011, he added.

Overall, Wimmer said it will get worse over the next two years, but he’s optimistic. A task force was recently established to look at the future of the Community Center, and the city of Isanti has a lot of young families.

“We have a plan. We’ve been working on this plan for six years  now, and we continue to make changes and tweaks to it as we go along, but we have a good idea of what’s coming,” he said. “We’re going to be able to maintain a very positive future.”