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Ripon helps keep library doors open 6 days a week
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 RIPON  - A surprise came in the passage of the near $22 million city budget Tuesday night with the announcement that the Ripon branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library would be open all week – not the reduced three-day schedule announced in March.

Librarian Melinda Kopp voiced her appreciation for the city’s $20,000 allocation that is helping her keep the library doors open where an estimated 100,000 patrons make use of the facility each year.

Kopp said that due to the high number of users, the county is also stepping up and allocating Ripon a larger piece of its funding pie.  She credited much of the budgetary support to the Friends of the Library group through its cheerleading efforts that launched the library into its larger, modern quarters in the downtown area.

The city’s funding will make possible a part-time library assistant and a part- time circulation assistant as well as clerk in the role of a shelver.

The Ripon City Council trimmed next year’s fiscal budget by 14 per cent over last year’s spending document, but still shows a $300,000 deficit.  City Administrator Leon Compton said that the positive numbers of the last three months have been encouraging that the city has bottomed out and that he foresees better times ahead.

“It’s the first time in a long time that I am optimistic,” Compton said.  The city administrator said that there has been an average $160,000 increase in the city’s monthly income and he has seen more green in the ledger than the red of the past year.  He noted that May alone is $277,000 better off than May of 2009.

“I don’t think we need to do any more trimming or cutting,” he said.  “We certainly don’t need to hit the panic button.”  

The budget’s general fund allocation was set at $8,022,722, streets $1,576,544, water $3,893,000, garbage $1,420,000, sewer district $1,336,800 and the Redevelopment Agency $5,749,303.

There were no capital fund expenditures in the next fiscal year’s budget due to the council’s attempt to hold the line and keep spending in balance with income.  The city’s $10,000 contribution to the Chamber of Commerce and its $50,000 to the senior center were both cut by nine per cent.

Vice Mayor Red Nutt said that he feels everybody has to tighten their belts noting that nine per cent isn’t asking all that much.  

Mayor Chuck Winn voiced his support in using the city’s reserves to keep up with needed city services in the community.

“From what I have heard tonight, this is not a rainy day, but a hurricane,” Winn said.

Former school district superintendent Leo Zuber offered his point of view saying he didn’t think there was anybody in town who doesn’t realize that the city has a money problem.  

“I think sometimes you have to ask us to help you out – and I think more people would do it than you think,” he said.  Zuber chided the idea that the increase in housing construction is going to help the city’s bottom line.

“My concern about this budget is that for the third year in a row the city is in deficit spending,” he stressed.  He said when he hears that things are getting better that is equated with things not getting any worse.