The potential bankruptcy of Atwater looms, a city faces another round of deep cuts, and a mayor is asking people to keep her city in their prayers.
Atwater, the agricultural city in Merced County, is millions of dollars in the red, facing millions in municipal bond payments, and is virtually out of reserves. The decline of the City has been gradual, if not catastrophic at times. The economy’s decline can be linked directly to the end of the Cold War, which closed the city’s Air Base, costing thousands of jobs. Now, unemployment is north of 20 percent, home values are less than half of what they were just five years ago, and nearly 25 percent of residents are below the poverty line.
The City has begun negotiating with its unions, but needs major concessions to avoid insolvency. When it comes to pensions, the City pays the 8 percent employee share for its rank-and-file employees, and between 7 and 9 percent of the employee share for its officers. Healthcare premiums have increased 15 percent in the last year and are expected to increase another 10 percent next year.
The city lost one third of its workers, and may have to cut another third of its staff in this round of cuts.
The City Council is set to vote on a Fiscal Emergency on October 3.
Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle.