The Atwater City Council approved a budget that will add seven new positions, while trying to cut spending in a city operating in debt.
The council on Monday unanimously accepted the $42.4 million budget, which is 3.5 percent smaller than last year. Councilman Paul Creighton was absent.
The council has gone over the budget the past few months, trying to find savings in the smallest corners of the spending plan. Atwater has struggled financially in recent years, and is dealing with a $2.8 million general fund debt, among other unfunded obligations, city staffers have said.
$42.4 million Atwater’s 2017-18 budget
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Here are the budget highlights:
- The plan pays for seven new positions, which include a full-time police officer and dispatcher. The other five are part-time positions for a dispatcher, two parks employees and two recreation instructors, according to John Bramble, the interim city manager.
- The budget has a surplus of about $280,000, Bramble said. Mayor Jim Price floated the idea to put $50,000 into city reserves. “We haven’t had a reserve for God knows how long,” he said. “Fifty grand isn’t a lot, but it’s something to build on.”
- The city earmarked money to hire a demographer to begin to draw districts for local elections. The council voted last month to move to districts after a law firm said the city was in violation of the state Voting Rights Act of 2001.
“Overall, I think it’s a pretty solid budget,” Councilwoman Cindy Vierra said.