We have a great summer ahead of us. I want to announce a new program I created that partners with the six schools located in the City of Isanti, known as Painting Plow Blades. City staff will clean-up our City plow blades and drop one at each of the schools where teachers incorporate painting them into their Arts Program. We will display the plow blades at our Celebrate Isanti Day on August 11. I am excited to see what the students will create! Make sure you check the Community Event section on page 11 to see all the great activities that are available this summer. Please do not forget that Redbirds Baseball games, soccer games, and BMX races are all free to the public to attend.
We are hosting the 11th Annual Mayor’s Employer Celebration Day on June 19. On this day, we take time to celebrate all of our Employers and Employees in the City and their great contributions. We have increased total net employment in the City from 1,377 in 2009 to 1,928 in 2017; while increasing total net businesses from 123 to 182.
We have experienced significant growth in our City the past couple of years. This has raised questions regarding what will happen when growth slows down again. This is an excellent question, considering the boom of the early 2000s and the recession that followed. The City at that time made several unfortunate decisions that caused significant economic pain when the recession hit. The City had taken on a significant amount of debt and did not charge adequate developer fees to cover costs. This lead to total net debt ballooning to $9.1 million. This was a crushing amount of debt for a City our size. Another financial planning decision made was to base their decision on 130 new homes being constructed each year for 10 years. This inflated number lead to irresponsible decision making including large increases in spending and staffing. Another legacy cost was the inadequate, and in some cases, no capital replacement budgets to repair/replace City infrastructure. When the recession hit with the collapse of the housing market Isanti suffered the consequences.
When I was first elected Mayor, cuts were made to address the financial issues the City was facing. There were staff cuts as well as cuts in spending and difficult Union negotiations occurred to share more healthcare benefits cost so we could conserve cash and start paying down debt. I created our Development Impact List, Long Term Financial Plan, Long Term Infrastructure plan and 5 Year Cash Flow Analysis Tool. We are now basing our residential fiscal impact plans on 25 home starts per year. In the last four years, we have had 233 total home starts. This is equivalent to 9.3 years of financial benefit. This helps protect the City when construction slows down and allows us to keep moving Isanti forward. We were able to use these tools, and along with tough decisions, are able to make the following improvements:
Per Capita Income increased 77%
Median Household Income increased 54%
Median House Value is $35,550 higher than neighboring communities
Cut net debt from $9.1 million to $2.9 million, since being elected Mayor
Improved City Credit Rating from Baa1 (one step above Junk/Speculative rating) to
AA+ or High Quality
48% net increase in total number of businesses
Local jobs increased by 40%, since being elected Mayor
Received multiple Business Recruitment Awards from the Minnesota
Economic Development Association
Cut Sewer Base Fee 50%
Cut Water Base fee 25%
Cut SAC/WAC fees $2,500
Cut property tax rate 7% in 2018
Proposed City Property Tax cut of 10% for 2019
Isanti named 6th Safest City in Minnesota (out of 853 cities)
Added Patrol Officer and Police Investigator positions and Police Bike Patrol
Isanti School Resource Officer named #1 in the State
Improved Police equipment and technology
Won Drinking Water Quality Award
Won Blue Star Award for Protecting and Preserving Minnesota’s Water Resources
Fit City Designation
Green Step City
These improvements show that Isanti has overcome the obstacles of the past, and is now on a successful path moving forward. We truly are a “Community for Generations” and there is no better place to work, live or recreate than the City of Isanti.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact me at 763-442-8749 or email me at George@georgewimmer.org . You may also follow me and keep up to date on all things Isanti on Twitter at twitter.com/mayorwimmer Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MayorGeorgeWimmer or my blog at georgewimmer.org.