Much has been written in this newspaper about Atwater's many financial problems, which include the possibility that the city of 28,000 residents could follow Stockton and file for bankruptcy to avoid falling over its own "fiscal cliff."
We all should be thankful on this Black Friday that city leaders appear to have steered away from the precipice by making some tough choices, including putting a sales tax measure on the March ballot to make whole public safety forces that were cut during evasive fiscal maneuvers earlier this year.
We have no doubt that Atwater could have avoided this unfortunate tax increase proposal if only it had been prudent about its finances through the past decade, perhaps even longer.
The city's political leadership -- some of whom still are seated at the dais -- deserves the blame for the mess. These leaders kicked the can further down the road even when it plainly was apparent that a financial catastrophe was brewing. And it's certainly no excuse if they were blissfully ignorant -- the clues that something was seriously amiss were in plain sight.
This newspaper generally does not support tax increases unless all other avenues to raise needed funds have been exhausted. In this case, we're inclined to support the March sales tax increase measure. The alternatives are too ugly to comprehend, one of them being bankruptcy and its inherent perils.
It's worth noting that Frank Pietro, the city's police chief and interim city manager, deserves credit for steering the city away from the cliff. His leadership has been steady and solution-oriented. He deserves praise for his handling of what is a thankless job.
The new council members now can set the proper tone to move Atwater into a bright future. They need to answer the call.