Isanti City Council approves 2017 preliminary budget, levy

The Isanti City Council approved its preliminary 2017 budget and property tax levy during its Sept. 6 meeting.
The proposed 2017 preliminary property tax levy was approved at approximately $2.6 million, an increase of $47,000 (1.5 percent) from the 2016 property tax levy, according to Interim Finance Director Gayle Bauman.
Isanti Mayor George Wimmer explained the levy increase was due to a $37,000 increase in Isanti Fire District charges for 2016 and 2017, and $10,000 to cover potential union mediation and arbitration costs.
Some of the expenses mentioned for 2017 include a projected 2 percent cost-of-living increase; 10 percent health care increase; $20,000 increase for Economic Development Authority; $42,000 for squad car replacement; and $20,000 for street lighting infill.
Wimmer voiced his frustration from the last legislative session with the governor’s veto of the bipartisan tax bill.
“The tax bill that passed both houses, but was vetoed by the governor, included approximately $57,000 in new funding for us, and that hurt us as well,” Wimmer said. “I think we put together a very conscientious budget and are adding more money into our general fund to try to build that up again.”
Wimmer noted $24,364 is being put back into the general fund to build up the city’s cash reserves.
The council approved a resolution setting the 2017 preliminary budget at $4.1 million. The largest portion of the budget is the Police Department at $1.3 million.
The council approved a resolution setting the 2017 final budget and levy meeting for 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at Isanti City Hall.

School resource officer disparity
Wimmer said he has been working with Cambridge-Isanti Schools to find out why there are two full-time school resource officers working in Cambridge and only one part-time school resource officer working in Isanti, and requesting accounting information.
He said he understands why there is one full-time school resource officer stationed at the high school, but questioned the disparity in Cambridge having another full-time school resource officer working at the other Cambridge schools, when Isanti only has one part-time officer for all the Isanti schools.
He noted Adam Gau, the part-time school resource officer at Isanti Middle School, won the MADD Officer of the Year Award last year and another recent award with Toward Zero Deaths.
“We have a top-notch school resource officer that does a fantastic job for us,” Wimmer said. “I’ve tried working with the superintendent and the school district on why this is happening this way, and I haven’t gotten anything satisfactory from them on this. It’s also frustrating that we are not getting the same treatment as the Cambridge schools.”
Following discussion, the council approved sending a letter requesting the information sought by Wimmer.
“Maybe there’s a perfectly legitimate reason, but I’d like to see it,” Wimmer said. “I’ve been trying to get answers for two years and I’m not getting anywhere.”