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State tax raids could change life in Ripon
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RIPON – The shrubbery along the path that used to be a proud symbol of a strong neighborhood starts to grow wildly out of control – creeping up the walls and out into the cracks of the sidewalk.

Those same streets that once served as the main routes for family sedans and SUVs taking kids to soccer practice is now rife with cracks and potholes and seems to get worse with every passing car, and the ruts that used to be filled in every year just get deeper and deeper with each passing truck.

It might sound somewhat apocalyptic, but it’s one scenario that Ripon might be facing if the State of California moves forward with a plan to withhold 65 percent of the gas taxes for the next three years that are supposed to be paid out to local municipalities to cover roadwork and maintenance.

And in a city like Ripon, the withholding of funds is something that could have disastrous consequences.

One current scenario that would end up taking even more of Ripon’s share of local property taxes might end up hitting them right where it hurts the most.

“We don’t know what the state is going to do from day to day,” City Administrator Leon Compton said. “We’ve already adopted a budget that is $300,000 short of where it needs to be, and we’ve already cut out just about everything that we can cut.

“After that point, if the state is still taking money, then all that we have left are services and people – and those are the things that we’ve worked so hard to preserve.”

While the gas tax issue has yet to be formally determined, if approved it wouldn’t take long before the effects started showing around town – where City of Ripon Public Works crews work diligently to maintain the beautifully landscaped areas throughout the community.

That department has already had to cut its entire half-time workforce in order to shorten the budget gap – giving full-timers even more responsibility.

And with the maintenance of the Jack Tone Interchange – built with City of Ripon funds – falling solely on their shoulders, the project that was once a proud symbol of independence could become just another overgrown series of on and off ramps.

“We’ve built all of these medians all over town and they look beautiful,” Compton said. “What happens when you can’t weed them and they don’t get the water they’re supposed to?”