Ripon City Council members got a peek at the proposed $8.8 million fiscal general fund budget Tuesday night through the eyes of Deputy City Administrator Kevin Werner.
Actual copies of the projected expenditures will be in elected officials’ hands today to enable them to go through the document page by page at their leisure before a public budget hearing set for June 18 in the council chambers.
Werner told councilmen that the city is currently at a “historically low staffing level” since the turn down of the economy some five years ago. He added that since 2010 the health and welfare costs for city employees has escalated some 135 percent with the retirement PERS costs having seen an increase of 7.4 percent for the city with the employees’ share up nine percent.
Other employees who are not in the PERS retirement system, but in the city’s second tier of benefits, are offered 401Ks with the city’s share at 15 percent.
Werner explained that sales tax and property tax revenues have reflected a “pretty fair” recovery to date with sales tax projected for a total $2.4 million for 2014 and property tax at an expected $1.7 million.
He added that the in lieu motor vehicle taxes sent back to the city have declined because the state has been taking more of the monies for their use.
Some 60 percent of the general fund is allocated to the Ripon police operations with 11 percent going to city administration, seven percent to parks, three percent to planning, four percent to Recreation, three percent to Mistlin Park and two percent to the engineering department.
Capital projects for the upcoming fiscal year include a radio repeater station for $20,000 and two completely outfitted patrol cars at a total of $110,000. A Main Street transformation project is billed at $400,000, although it is being funded through a State Transportation Improvement Program grant.
Also in the capital improvements is the Mistlin Sports Park Concession Stands and restrooms at a cost of $1 million with Tony Mistlin donating $400,000 of the project cost. A refuse truck has been included for a sticker value of $315,000.
A 48-inch storm drain extension on North Ripon Road has a price tag of $300,000 along with a 16-foot-wide Toro lawn mower for park use at $88,000. A planned Park-N-Ride facility planned to be erected at Jack Tone Road is covered by a $650,000 grant.
Werner further noted that while Ripon has seen an obvious recovery, growth has been slow in the past couple of years, pretty flat.
Councilman Chuck Winn asked the city administrator if he felt comfortable with the proposed budget if the economy should take another downturn.
Werner replied that the city would need to take it “year by year” and watch it carefully. He added that the actions of the city in 2008-2009 with early cutbacks and layoffs, he felt they had been ahead of the game.
Councilman Jake Parks questioned Police Chief Ed Ormonde about the status of his department and its manpower. The chief said he feels he has appropriate staffing and reliable people.
“I feel really strong this year and for the next couple of years as the staffing remains the same,” he said. Ripon is starting to hire again like other law enforcement agencies in the region, having lost a couple senior officers in the past several months to other departments.
“People come to the Ripon Department because they want to be here (in Ripon),” he added.
Councilman Chuck Winn questioned the size of the department as inmates continue to be turned back into the communities rather than being incarcerated. Because of that, within the next couple of years, the size of the police department is going to need to increase its numbers significantly, he said.