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Bad news is good news: Ripon now $400K in debt
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RIPON – While deficit estimates were at one time listed at above $1,000,000, Ripon City administrator Leon Compton says that things are looking much better now that end of the financial year totals are finally in focus.

With an initial prediction of a shortfall somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 before the year actually started – fueled by the constant problems coming from Sacramento’s massive budget shortfall – Ripon will end the fiscal year with just over $400,000 in debt.

And even that is a tad misleading.

With more than $45,000 worth of federal funding set aside for police expenses that were sidelined because of paperwork problems and thus pushed back beyond the end of the fiscal calendar year. The amount Ripon is in the red is technically now slightly less. It could even be in even better shape if the $100,000 that was paid out in loans to staffers to buy houses in town were to come in within the next 10 years.

According to Compton, those two elements puts Ripon at the conservative end of what he expected when it came to a shortfall – a number that is actually a good sign for a city that was extremely worried less than a year ago when all indications led to a massive shortage.

“All of the efforts by all of the people here paid a lot of dividends,” Compton said. “I know that there were a lot of tough decisions that the council didn’t want to have to make, but in the end they had to be made and that’s a big reason why we’re in better shape than what we initially expected.”

Mayor Chuck Winn echoed the sentiments, and noted that even with a deficit the total was starkly different from where civic planners were bracing for.

“I think that’s a number that’s a lot less than what we had at one time talked about,” Winn said. “Back in November things were looking pretty bleak.”

Compton said that through creative shifting of available funds, the city would be able to start off this fiscal year with a balance of zero – rolling the deficit into another multi-million dollar fund that can be made up later so that the marks in the red don’t continue to climb if another bad year were to be experienced.