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Atwater City Council certifies 2010 levy and budget; cuts influenced by gov.'s unallotment

ATWATER -- The Atwater City Council approved its 2010 levy and budget Wednesday following the truth in taxation hearing.

The $353,511 levy is a 4 percent increase from last year.

The $695,158 general fund budget is a decrease of $46,842 from last year and reflects the $46,420 the city lost in government aid as part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unallotment process.

"Everybody was asked to give up some stuff," City Clerk Goldie Smith said. "We've pared everything back as far as we can."

The council did approve a 4 percent salary increase for employees, who did not receive any increase last year. But a part-time city office employee has also been assigned to drive the senior dining bus as a cost-saving measure, which means a cut in other city services and office hours.

If another round of LGA cuts are made, Smith said "more services will be gone."

For 2010, LGA was cut to cities with a population of 1,000 or more. The state estimated Atwater's population at 1,034, Smith said.

The council met with City Engineer Jared Voge, from Bolton & Menk, about developing a long-term plan for scheduling major repairs to streets.

The city's first priority will be in a four-block area in downtown, from Highway 2 to Fourth Street. The second phase would include Fourth Street South and the third phase is Minnesota Avenue.

The work would include replacing water and sewer lines as well as street reconstruction. The last time the city did a major utility and street project was in 1999.

After decreasing $70,000 "when the bottom fell out of the market," Atwater's Fire Relief Fund is rebounding, Smith said.

The council was told the fund had a gain of $50,000 in the past six months.

In a letter, the state auditor said the city would be given a one-year reprieve from being required to contribute money to the fund because the fund was rebounding with improved investment returns. Firefighters who serve 20 years and are 50 years of age are eligible to draw retirement benefits from the fund, Smith said.

In other action:

- The council did not accept a bid of $1,507 from Chicago Motors to purchase the city's 2003 squad car.

- The council was informed the 2009 summer recreation program had 207 participants. Expenditures were $19,150 and revenues were $12,626.

- The council agreed not to take any action about where mail boxes are placed on city streets.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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