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Atwater cuts 2006 budget and levy

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

ATWATER -- The Atwater City Council cut $73,400 from its 2006 budget Wednesday. The action was taken after "scrutinizing" the numbers in a line-by-line process, said Councilman Dale Tagtow.

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Most areas of the proposed budget were shaved, said Tagtow, including employees' salaries.

Following a series of negotiations, the council approved a 2 percent across-the-board salary increase. The raise was smaller than the 5 percent proposed salary increase that had been included for some employees in the preliminary budget.

The original 2006 levy of $375,945 would have meant a 30 percent increase over 2005.

The size of the increase hadn't made residents happy since receiving their tax notification statements, said Tagtow, in an interview Thursday.

The changes to the budget, and the revised salary increases, will have to be factored in to determine the actual levy increase. Tagtow said he believed the levy increase will be in the 4 to 6 percent range.

Before it was cut, the proposed 2006 budget was $1,184,203, compared with $641,691 in 2005. With the budget cuts, the proposed 2006 budget is $1,110,803, said Mayor Bruce Baker.

One reason for the budget increase is to replace reserve funds needed to purchase the new fire truck that will be delivered next year. The city is also purchasing a new squad car and ambulance and will be installing a new furnace and air conditioner at the community center next year.

Tagtow said Police Chief Reed Schmidt pleaded with the council to keep the $2,100 in the budget to pay for a police officer to be in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Schools three hours a day for five days a week. That was left in the budget, he said.

Final action on the budget and levy won't be taken until after the city holds its truth in taxation hearing in December. Baker said it's always possible further reductions could be made then.

In other action the council:

- Heard from members of the Atwater Baseball Association, a new organization that is hoping to raise money to make improvements to the ball diamond, including adding lights and a concession stand. The organization, which is seeking nonprofit status, sought and received support from the council.

- Agreed not to pursue a potential grant opportunity for a new library. The grant required soil borings of a proposed site, which was estimated to cost $5,000. The council is still pursuing options for purchasing and remodeling an existing building to move the library. The current library building has structural problems and is scheduled to be razed.

- Approved a residential garbage hauling license to West Central Sanitation. A quote for service from Willmar City Sanitation was also reviewed. The city of Atwater issues only one residential garbage hauling license.

- Reviewed quotes from two financial institutions for interest rates for a one-year certificate of deposit totaling $136,330, with Atwater State Bank offering a rate of 3.66 and Concorde Bank of Blomkest and Willmar offering 4.25 percent. It was agreed that the Atwater State Bank would be asked if they could match the 4.25 percent rate.

- Agreed to pay an individual $300 for damages to crops after the city cleaned a drainage ditch.

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West Central Tribune (320) 235-6769 customer support
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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