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Non-paid furloughs on table for Ripon city employees

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POSTED March 17, 2009 5:21 a.m.
RIPON — Depending on the financial situation in the next several months, Ripon municipal employees might find themselves facing furlough days by the time May rolls around.

According to the presentation that Ripon City Administrator Leon Compton will make to the City Council tonight at City Hall at 7 p.m., the difficult and ever changing financial situation that the City of Ripon is facing is making it next to impossible for top brass to determine whether the ultimate cost-cutting measure — mandatory days off without pay — will have be to be undertaken.

Over the course of the last month, Ripon’s projected year-end deficit has shrunk from $640,000 to just $555,000, but additional elements such as an unanticipated loss of $63,000 from a GAP ++ employee home loan are making it extremely hard to gauge where the city’s finances will be in the coming months.

The fact that projected revenue growth has actually shrunk significantly over the course of the last year, finding any regularity in budgeting has been more than a chore.

“When you look at the numbers, you see revenue growing every year for the month of February by about $300,000 so you should anticipate that 2009 revenue should also be this amount,” Compton wrote in his report. “This was not the case — rather than growing by $300,000, revenue actually dropped by $600,000.

“This is a swing of $900,000 over what you would anticipate for just the month of February.”

The sharp decline in gas prices has also taken a toll on the overall tax base that the city relies on for a large portion of its services — with as much as 70 percent of its sales-tax revenue coming from the Jack Tone Interchange that is heavily influenced by truck traffic that pass through and motorists that leave large amounts of money in town while passing through.

“As for a recommendation for now, I would anticipate that the deficit will narrow through the rest of the year,” Compton wrote. “With this in mind, I would hold off of starting furlough days until May and see if the deficit continues to come down — if it doesn’t, then we’ll have to begin implementing the furlough days in May.”

When the City Council last met, Mayor Chuck Will proposed a possible across-the-board five percent pay cut that will have to be negotiated with both municipal workers and unions as a way to prevent any future layoffs and possibly thwart the furlough days that have many workers worries that they’ll be losing a significant portion of their salary.

Winn’s idea was only intended to spark discussion and provide an alternative option to those already on the table, but did receive council support to allow for negotiating teams from both the police and public works departments to begin discussions with city officials to work out the details.

The Ripon City Council meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 259 N. Wilma Avenue. A copy of the agenda is available at  www.cityofripon.org.
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