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Atwater proposes hike of 4 percent to its levy over 2010; final action will take place in Dec.

ATWATER -- The proposed levy for Atwater will increase about 4 percent next year.

The proposed $367,945 levy is an increase of $14,434 over 2010.

The proposed general fund budget of $719,197 is a $24,039 increase from 2010. It includes funding for several street and utility projects and an anticipated 19 percent increase in health insurance.

Final action on the levy and budget will take place in December.

The budget includes anticipated state aid of $269,148. The full amount was included even though the state cut the city's 2010 aid.

If the state aid is cut again the city will have to find more places to cut its budget, said City Clerk Goldie Smith in a brief interview Thursday.

Meanwhile, the city was informed at their meeting Wednesday that properties owned by Jennie-O Turkey Store, including the feed mill in Atwater, are appealing property tax levels in tax court. The feed mill is the city's largest single tax-payer, Atwater currently receives $43,490 in tax revenue from the company, said Smith.

The city is anticipating letting bids next month on the next phase of work at the historic Hotel Atwater. Tuck pointing of exterior brick work was completed this summer, now efforts will focus on shoring up rafters and roof work.

The city has already received a portion of its total $130,000 grant money from the State Historical Society that will be matched with city funds for the structural repairs. It is waiting for a $100,000 grant from USDA Rural Development that will be dedicated for creating library space in the building.

Police Chief Reed Schmidt said his department is hosting a "picnic with a cop" on Monday at Centennial Park. The event is being held for children to get to know the local police, including new officer Trevor Burger, and the department's two canine units, Callie and Dakota.

The event, which will run two to three hours, will include a meal donated by area grocery stores and games. The event is an opportunity to "have fun with the kids versus seeing us in the cop car," he said.

Because the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District operates on a four-day week and doesn't have classes on Monday, the picnic will be a good opportunity for the community.

About 35 kids have signed up so far, said Schmidt. Reservations are required by calling 220-8900.

About a month ago the police department also launched a Facebook account as another phase of its public relations campaign and to let people know about community programs. The site may also be used in the future to help the police department obtain information that could be helpful to cases.

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750