ATWATER, CA – The Atwater Mayor attempted to sell a pipe dream to the City of Atwater residents during a Thursday Town Hall this past week, where he proposed raising taxes on Merced County residents to pay for Atwater’s roads. Problem is, Atwater has the money to fix the roads if they could just find where millions of tax payers dollars went missing.
As Atwater Mayor Jim Price told residents that their city’s finances are “deplorable”, he never addressed how they got to such a deplorable state. MCNTV News has attempted to call the Atwater Mayor to ask him the hard questions, but he has not returned our calls and is obviously hiding from having to answer the questions that Atwater residents really want to know and not just the fluff.
Like how can he lead the City of Atwater out of this “deplorable” financial situation when he couldn’t lead on designing a simple “In God We Trust” sign? It took five months to get done and was rejected by the city as being way too costly and a really bad design.
Also, we have been looking into the California State Audit on Atwater’s finances which is still being conducted and, although the state is delaying the inevitable, there is a lot of money missing, nearly half of what is needed to fix Atwater’s roads. A Freedom of Information request has been sent and we hope to bring the citizens of Atwater the truth once the request is filled.
In April of 2014, the California State Controller’s office began an investigation into Atwater’s finances when the city failed to file its annual financial reports on time for the past five years. The state also noted that Atwater made substantial adjustments to the numbers it had reported to the state at the time. Several red flags were noted.
In a letter addressed to the city, several operating shortfalls of 53% were noted in 2010-11 and 40 percent in 2011-12. A deficit in the city’s general fund balance increased from $3.9 million in 2011-12 to $4.2 million in 2012-13, the independent auditor’s report “expressed substantial doubt about the city’s ability to continue.” The audit still continues with a lot of missing money from Atwater City tax payers.
Mayor Price also stated during this weeks town hall, along with Atwater City Manager and Police Chief, Frank Peitro, that Atwater has a hold on the gang problem after they made five arrests recently. I can say with certainty that both of these men are lying to the tax payers of Atwater, CA., and that the gangs are laying low until the heat is off. I can say with certainty that both of these men are lying to Atwater residents again.
MCNTV News would also like to ask APD Chief Frank Peitro where they are in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Sergio Avelar who was murdered at the Applegate Inn on January 30th of this year in Atwater. According to several witnesses, they had informed the Atwater PD that Eric Cruz, a 19-year-old gang member from Atwater, was the one who stabbed Sergio the day it happened and that they were ignored. The witnesses also stated that the group were seen and captured on surveillance cameras drinking at an Atwater bar, although they were all underage, and that the Atwater PD had not requested the footage from the business. A call to the bar by MCNTV News did confirm this. The witnesses also stated that they later received death threats from Atwater gang members in the area who stated that APD let them know who was “snitching” making residents even more fearful of both the Atwater gangs and the Atwater PD.
A warrant was finally issued for Eric Cruz 9 days later, giving the alleged murderer enough time to flee the area.
Atwater has been on the edge for years and has been led by some of the worst leaders this state has to offer. From Frank Peitro’s long-time affair with a woman in the department to Frank’s taking of money and toys donated during the holiday season, to the Atwater police department’s lack of certifications, dispatchers who are rude and hang up on callers reporting crime, to its own officers intimidating people out of filing police reports, the city should be absorbed by County of Merced ASAP and allow the Merced County Sheriff’s department to come in and clean up a very dirty and corrupt town known as Atwater.