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Ripon leader sees better days ahead for city budget
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RIPON - Ripon city workers can breathe a little easier despite the proposed Ripon budget being out of balance by some $300,000.

City Administrator Leon Compton told council members Tuesday night that he made significant reductions in the revenue that he anticipated to be coming into the city coffers during the 2020-2011 fiscal year.

“It is my belief that barring some major action by the state or some unforeseen event, the $300,000 (shortfall) is the worst case scenario.  There is a real possibility that housing starts will increase which will help a lot in reducing the projected $300,000 deficit,” he said.

Compton recommended the council refrain from any further layoffs or salary reductions to the existing work force.

“There may well be some opportunities in the future to supplement the general fund with new revenues,” he added.

The city administrator also noted there are no significant capital purchases proposed for the upcoming fiscal year which begins July 1.  The city council agenda of June 1 will again address the new budget proposal.

The city administrator’s budget proposal is for a total expenditure of $8,022,722 some 14 percent below last year’s budget of $9,353,832 – a difference of $1.3 million.
The new budget does not include $70,000 for additional hours by the library staff or a planned $10,000 contribution in support of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce as well as $50,000 that was going for the support of the Ripon Senior Citizens’ Center.

During the economic-demanded layoffs of recent months, the police department took one of the most sizeable hits.  Its numbers now include 17 officers, five sergeants and one lieutenant in addition to the chief.

While the administrator’s prediction came as welcome news, Mayor Chuck Winn said at a recent council session that he expects the economy to take four to five years to return to the 2007 level.  Winn added that the unemployment rate in San Joaquin County is projected to remain near a 12 percent level during that period of time.

Winn said that California has lost some 1.4 million jobs due to the nosedive in the economy  with the recovery needing four good years to recover.  He noted that retail sales are “expected to stay flat” until a recovery begins to take hold next year.