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Ripon delays dropping health benefits
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RIPON – Elected leaders will hold on to their health benefits for now.

In this election year, the Ripon City Council opted last Tuesday to wait until after the November outcome before revisiting a plan to reduce their compensation.

“It won’t be fair to the new council,” said Councilman Garry Krebbs, who, along with Charlie Gay and Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt, is seeking re-election.

The incumbents are expected to receive a stiff challenge from retired Ripon Unified Superintendent Leo Zuber, retired police officer Scott Lindsay, business owner Jake Parks, and youth coordinator and businessman Robbie Orlando.

“There’s a possibility we’ll have a new council,” Councilman Dean Uecker said. “This isn’t the time to bring this up.”

He moved to put off the plan initiated by his colleague Chuck Winn until after the elections. Council agreed, voting 3-2.

Winn and Charlie Gay voted no.

Incidentally, Winn is the only council member not receiving the health plan that comes with the elected position. Instead, he relies on the benefits from his retirement package made possible from 30 years of service in the California Highway Patrol.

He also acknowledged that he’s still a union member.

Several months ago, Winn proposed that his colleagues suspend or modify their health benefits compensation as a safe guard towards a possible budget deficit. “(The motion) died a natural death,” he said.

Council was assured by staff that the city is fiscally solvent.

“We’ve been very, very thrifty,” Gay said.

Winn believes the city can save $216,618 by reducing the council compensation, in turn, using that money towards other budget-reduced matters. “We owe it to the taxpayers,” he said.

Ripon has $3.8 million in reserve funds and appear close to restoring pay to employees who took cuts to help out the budget.

Elected leaders such as Nutt, Gay and Krebbs are thankful for the health plan. But that’s not reason they sought office.

“I need it but I can probably get by without it,” Nutt added.