The City of Isanti will be hosting a Santa event this Christmas season after being approved Aug. 5 by the Isanti City Council.
The event will take place during the December movie event hosted by the city, and the cost to host a Santa is approximately $600 for two hours, according to Parks, Recreation, and Culture Manager Jenny Garvey. This news gave members of the council a bit of sticker-shock.
Mayor Jeff Johnson joked about Isanti County Commissioner Mike Warring or Council Member Jimmy Gordon playing Santa for far less than $600.
City Administrator Josi Wood explained the cost is due to going through a reputable company that hires out Santas after going through a comprehensive background check, noting the company takes on the liability for their Santas.
Favoring the idea of hosting a Santa, Council Member Dan Collison noted it was “cheaper than fireworks.”
Gordon countered, commenting there were many area events in which to visit Santa.
“I don’t think we need it,” Johnson stated.
As a way to save money, Council Member Paul Bergley wondered if it would be possible to talk to the local Lions Club to help provide a Santa at less expense. However, Wood pointed out that the city attorney recommended going through the Santa company due to liability purposes.
“I think all of us up here have gone the direction of trying to do something for the community. With this unusual year that we are having and things have been really tough all around,” Council Member Steve Lundeen said. “I just got a hard time swallowing that $600 for two hours. I know this much, if I walked into somebody’s house and did a service call and charged them $600 for two hours, they’d shoot me.”
There is money in the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Board budget to fund the Santa event, according to Garvey.
Despite their reservations over the cost, the motion was approved unanimously.
Deadline extended for building repairs
In a 4-1 split vote, the council approved allowing the owners of the property at 105 Railroad Avenue through Tuesday, Aug. 18 to complete repairs on the building. Collison voted against allowing additional time.
Before opening the public hearing, Johnson stated, “I do want to say myself, I did drive by, not once, but twice today. Everything was complete, it just needs to be cleaned up.”
However, Community Development Director Sheila Sellman informed the council that the city’s building inspector had been to the property that day as well, and the building’s fascia was not complete and the siding is not complete due to not being sealed. “While it looks like it’s complete and we are almost there, it’s just not fully done,” Sellman said.
The property owners argued that the siding does not need a sealant, as it is natural cedar siding. They also stated their interactions with various MNSPECT employees, with whom Isanti contracts to provide building inspections, has been very confusing.
It was pointed out that sealing includes caulking around the edges of the new siding and brick. Sellman also noted there is a brochure regarding acceptable sealing for the type of siding on the building.
“All I’m worried about is I want the building structurally sound. I don’t want it to fall on you guys, I don’t want it to fall on anybody,” Johnson said.
The owners stated the building was structurally sound one week after the new wall was constructed.
“We got the roof done, that’s huge. Get it cleaned up, get it caulked, put some paint on your fascia,” Lundeen said.
The building owners again explained their confusion with different MNSPECT employees telling them different information regarding what has to be completed and what did not.
“I think we discussed this, though, at the last meeting.” Collison said. “We went over this last time and we extended you a month. So let’s not beat around the bush anymore and just move on.”
Johnson again noted he just wanted the project complete, and it’s not just the council or city complaining about it, but also city residents.
Sellman informed the building owners to contact MNSPECT when the repairs are complete in order to ascertain that everything that needed to be completed is complete before the Aug. 18 deadline, as well as providing the city with copies of any paperwork MNSPECT provides stating the project is complete.