Isanti council approves 0 percent change to property taxes in preliminary budget

Isanti residents will once again see no change to their city property taxes in 2013 if the preliminary budget is approved in December.

The proposed property tax levy is $1,792,884, according to the preliminary budget. This is in an effort to maintain property taxes in 2013 at the same level as 2012 and to account for the current estimated property tax values provided by the county, as well as the market value homestead exclusion.

The city will receive updated property tax values from the county near the end of September.

To balance the budget, $304,714 from the general fund balance will need to be used. Once the preliminary levy has been adopted, it can only be decreased.

In the preliminary budget, total expenditures for 2013 is $3,035,546.

The meeting when the 2013 final budget and levy will be discussed and determined has been set for Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.

Council tables nuisance abatement

The city council held a public hearing to authorize a nuisance abatement of the property located at 917 East Dual Blvd NE, but decided to table the issue until the next council meeting after hearing from the owner.

Since January, city staff have been receiving comments from individuals looking to locate in the industrial park if not for the condition of the property, owned by Diamond Welding. City staff inspected the property and noticed that piles of materials and several vehicles were stored on the property.

A verbal warning was given in February. The owner noted that they were working to bring the property into compliance. In May, the city received another complaint about the property. A letter was sent requesting the owners come into compliance.

After the property was re-inspected, city staff noted that no progress had been made on removing materials or vehicles stored on the property. After receiving another complaint, city staff sent a second letter to extend the deadline to come into compliance by two weeks.

A citation was issued at the end of July after the property was re-inspected and found to be non-compliant. An arraignment hearing was set for Aug. 22.

The property owner, Darren Fletcher, who runs Diamond Welding, came forward during the public hearing at the Isanti City Council meeting Sept. 4 and said his business has outgrown the building. He said he is currently in the process of selling the property and moving to a new location.

“There’s really not a whole lot he can do. If you go over there and look inside the building, they’ve utilized all the space. He’s right to look for a new place, because that building does not work for him anymore,” Council member Sue Larson said. “This is a business we’re going to lose because they’ve outgrown their space, and they’re going to move elsewhere. I’d like to think that the city would be gracious enough to—-if they’ve got a potential sale pending—that we give that sale pending time to come to fruition.”

City council members voted to table the resolution to authorize a nuisance abatement until the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 18.

“We’re trying to get this property into compliance,” Isanti Mayor George Wimmer said. “We have other properties. If we allow one to go out of compliance, then you allow them all to go out of compliance. We can’t pick and choose because we like one person over another. We have the same set of rules.”

In other action:

• Isanti Mayor George Wimmer proclaimed Sept. 22 as “Step Into Africa Day” to recognize the opening of the Step Into Africa exhibit at the Isanti County Fairgrounds. The exhibit runs Sept. 22 through Sept. 30 and is co-sponsored by Our Response and World Vision to bring awareness to people suffering with HIV and AIDS in Africa.

• The council approved an event application for a tailgate party prior to the Minnesota Owls home opener game. The event is 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, in the parking lot in front of the Isanti Arena.

• The council approved a resolution authorizing an Isanti history research project. Wimmer said for now this means compiling information on Isanti’s history. “It’s important to find out what our shared history is to find out what makes Isanti unique,” Wimmer said. “I think it’s critically important for us to know our history here so people feel part of the community.”