Fiscal responsibility as well as optimism for the future were highlights of Isanti Mayor George Wimmer’s annual state of the city address.
The state of the city address, hosted by the Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce, was held March 20 at Wintergreen’s in Isanti.
Several chamber members and community members were in attendance to hear Wimmer’s review of the past year, and his thoughts toward the future.
Wimmer highlighted the city’s A+ bond rating, noting the bond rating has saved the city over $100,000 in interest. He also noted liquor store profits and sales have increased this past year, and 12 new businesses opened.
“We have the city’s long term budget balanced to 2017, and city taxes haven’t been raised in eight years,” Wimmer said.
He also highlighted a couple of park successes, including the opening of Wakeboard Park and Legacy Park.
Wimmer said Wakeboard Park did have a successful first season even though they opened late summer, and the city will be receiving a check for 5 percent of the businesses gross revenues.
He also mentioned the opening of the 22-acre Legacy Park located in the northwestern portion of the city, abutting the Rum River.
As far as residential activity, Wimmer noted 413 foreclosed properties have sold since 2009.
“There are a lot of issues and emotions around foreclosure, but if it can go through the process and get back on the city tax roll as quickly as possible, it’s good for the city,” Wimmer said. “We have had 54 empty lots sold in the past few months and we are looking at having 33 new homes being built by one builder in the future. Activity is increasing in all zoning areas, and we are having more business contact. Things are moving forward and look positive at this point.”
Wimmer mentioned seeking public safety grants and obtaining vehicles through the forfeiture process is a good way to help balance budgets.
“The city does a fabulous job with this process,” Wimmer said. “Chief Ron Sager and his department do a great job with grant writing to obtain these important grants.”
Wimmer said with 12 new businesses opening in 2012, and with the expansion of current businesses and new businesses opening soon, he’s excited for the future.
“We continue to go out into the business community and visit with businesses,” Wimmer said. “We need to know how we can serve them better and try to find ways to do that. We need businesses to be open and honest with us when we come to visit.
“All of the city’s great businesses help add to the flavor of the city, and draw people into the community. All of our business success helps to build the community,” Wimmer added.
As far as council goals, Wimmer noted the council will be finalizing a decision on the community center viability, and noted upcoming fundraisers are planned for the center.
“I think we can all agree the community center is important to the community, but we need to try to find a way to make it as close to self sufficient as possible,” Wimmer said.
He said the council will be looking at a downtown business loop, County Road 5 aesthetic standards and appearance issues, revamping the city website, bringing utility billing back to city hall to save costs and continue to promote economic development.
Wimmer said the city’s distance from the Twin Cities remains an issue, but the city tries to offset that as much as it can.
“Isanti is a young, talented city, and we have a lot of young families in the community,” Wimmer said. “Businesses are the key to our future and I think going forward we have a lot of positive things coming down the line.”