By Rachel Kytonen
The city of Isanti is moving forward with plans to construct a trail within Legacy Park.
During the Isanti City Council meeting Tuesday, April 17, the council approved the funding mechanism for the Legacy Park Trail construction.
Following discussion, the council, by a 3-2 vote with Council members Jim Kennedy and Steve Lundeen voting against, approved a motion to provide a no interest loan from the general fund to the park dedication fund for the construction of Legacy Park Trail, contingent upon the awarding of the construction bid at a future council meeting.
The bids for the construction of Legacy Park Trail were opened on April 13. Four bids were received that ranged in cost from $113,982 to $196,454.
Planning and Parks Director Lisa Wilson explained that even though around $20,000 will be returned to the city from the Cambridge-Isanti Bike/Walk Trail project, there will still not be enough funds available within the park dedication fund to pay for the construction of Legacy Park Trail.
Wilson explained as development occurs, and park fund dollars would be provided as required, those dollars would reimburse the general fund for the loan.
Kennedy said he didn’t agree with not leaving any funds in the park dedication fund.
Isanti Mayor George Wimmer explained as development comes into the city, the developer would pay for construction of a new park.
Mayor Wimmer said the funding has to be used for very specific purposes, and asked Kennedy what he would like to see the funds used for instead.
Kennedy said he didn’t have anything specific in mind; he just didn’t feel it was appropriate to take all the funds out of the park dedication fund.
Mayor Wimmer explained the trail is needed in the area, and the funds can’t be used for anything else.
“This land was donated to the city for free by the developer for a park,” Mayor Wimmer said. “It only seems right and proper we use it for its intended use. This trail will be as unique in our area as the wakeboard park. A whole wide range of people will be using this.”
The city acquired additional park and open space area within the northwest corner of the Villages on the Rum development, which is known as Legacy Park.
Council member Ross Lorinser said developing this trail is consistent with the motto of the city, “a community for generations.”
City Engineer Brad DeWolf explained the maintenance costs on the trail would be very minimum.
Lorinser and Mayor Wimmer questioned Kennedy as to his thoughts on the project since he hadn’t voted against the proposal for engineering services for the development of trail concepts for Legacy Park. Kennedy said he didn’t have any issues with funding that.
City receives clean audit
Steve McDonald from Abdo, Eick and Meyers LLP, presented the city’s 2011 annual financial report and management letter.
McDonald said the city received a “clean opinion,” on its financial statements and any federal funds it received the past year.
“Overall the health of the city appears solid,” McDonald said. “The results of the audit also turned out well.”
McDonald noted a positive trend in liquor store profits. He said the gross profit percentage is exceeding the state average, and provides $150,000 to the general fund to fund city operations.
Mayor Wimmer noted the city spends 23 percent less per capita on city government compared to its peer group of cities. He also noted in 2006 city net debt was around $9 million, and it currently is under $4 million.
Lorinser said the audit shows the city is on the right path with its finances.
“This clearly shows we are doing this right, and set up well for the future,” Lorinser said. “It’s nice we have a fund balance to whether some of the storms we may face in the years ahead.”