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Atwater council tables city employee salaries

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Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ATWATER -- Rising health care costs could affect how much the city of Atwater, and its four full-time employees, pay for health insurance. During a special meeting last week, the Atwater City Council met with employees to discuss proposed salary increases for 2006 and how the cost of their health insurance is split between the employees and the city.

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The council agreed to table the issue until its next meeting.

Currently, family health insurance costs $562 a month per employee, with the city paying $438 and the employees paying $124.

In 2006, the monthly rate will go to $655, with employees paying $217.

The council discussed whether the city should pick up a larger portion of the tab. No action was taken.

The council heard requests from the employees about their 2006 salaries. Police Chief Reed Schmidt told the council that since they demoted the city's second police officer to 20 hours a week, Schmidt has been working an average of 62.6 hours a week. His 2006 salary is budgeted at $38,245. According to the City Council minutes, Schmidt requested that the hours of the second officer be increased and that a resource officer be added for the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.

Mike Henkleman, who works in the maintenance department, has requested an annual salary of $30,000 for 2006 to bring his compensation close to that of the maintenance supervisor, to accommodate extra work hours and to recognize his obtaining a wastewater license next spring.

Following the special meeting with employees, the council held its regular meeting. In other action the council:

- Discussed problems with the tarring of Atlantic Avenue, which was torn up when the new storm-water lines were installed through town. The top coat was applied when it was too cold, said Councilman Dale Tagtow, which left a rough look to the street. The contractor agreed to apply a seal coat next year and extend the warranty for an additional year.

- Approved spending up to $3,200 for 25 street banners.

- Approved a special exception use permit for Dale Kragenbring for an addition to Sunnyview Assisted Living, to be built north of the current building. This would bring the number of clients up to 19. The permit was needed because the parcel is located in an area zoned for single-family residents.

- Gave City Librarian Lynda Behm authority to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education for construction of a new library. The grant application is due Dec. 15.

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