City of Ripon residents will have a chance to drop off some large items at the compost center at no cost to them in 2021. This comes after the service was removed from the 2020 budget.

City of Ripon

City of Ripon

While specific details will be ironed out at a later date, the service was one of many that was added to next year’s budget with the help of some finagling and the recycling fund.

Ald. Al Schraeder pitched the idea last week of using some of the $100,000 budgeted in revenues from recycling fees to fund capital purchases to free up extra money.

The only challenge was finding an item to fit that description.

After taking another look at the budget, Schraeder proposed during a Public Works meeting last week Thursday that a line of $35,000 for a replacement squad car for the city of Ripon Police Department be reduced to $13,500. The $21,500 difference then would be covered by the recycling fees fund, opening that money for other use in the operational budget.

"We are up against expenditure restraint and that's the limit that the state puts on us for our expenditures,” City administrator Lori Rich said last week for the reason of the shifting. “So we can increase our expenditures next year for 2021 by 1.4%, and the budget that we presented is right at that limit, so we can't spend any more than what we already have in the budget.”

The Common Council made a slight adjustment to Schraeder’s proposal Monday, electing to reduce the line in the budget for the squad car to $12,500 to create an extra $1,000 to spend on items.

The money freed up will be allocated to the following expenses indicated to the Common Council from a “wish list” and budget discussions that have occurred so far:

  • $7,012 for costs associated with large item drop-off options in the Public Works department;
  • $5,000 for the Ripon Area Fire District for 10 external communication devices;
  • $4,000 for the city of Ripon Police Department for new phone hardware;
  • $1,000 for building maintenance at the animal control building;
  • $1,050 for a new computer at the Ripon Senior Activity Center;
  • $3,438 for LED lighting in the police department’s dispatch center;
  • $978.78 for a laptop for the Ripon Public Library.

The money for the laptop wasn’t in Schraeder’s original proposal, but was requested by Ald. David Gallops and was supported by the rest of the Common Council, resulting in the change.

"They had a donation for the video recording equipment and this would make it a little better for them; they can live stream and do some other things and programming that they would otherwise not be able to do,” Gallops said when asking for the library to receive the money.

Schraeder also proposed during the Public Works meeting that the remaining $78,500 of the recycling fees be placed in an “Equipment Replacement Fund” that can be used for future capital equipment purchases. That total was cut to $77,500 to free up funds for the laptop.

He noted he would like to have a discussion with the Public Works committee at a future date to present a resolution to the Common Council outlining that “a minimum of 75% of the city’s annual recycling fees be placed (budgeted) in an equipment replacement fund for future capital equipment purchases by the city.”

A public hearing for the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Public Works explores options large-item drop-offs

Public Works Director Mike Ehrenberg shared a range of what it would cost to bring back free dump days for Ripon residents at the Public Works meeting last week Thursday, noting it’s between $8,400 to $9,840.

The cost for dumping what is collected on the day is around $600, he said, while labor for two Saturdays is $3,840 (four employees), one Tuesday and one Saturday is $2,400 (two employees) and two Tuesdays and two Saturdays is $2,880 (two employees).

Ehrenberg added that if the number of dump days were reduced from the four that took place in 2019 to the two Saturdays that the Common Council threw out at its last meeting, the traffic was going to be “extreme,” especially after the city did not offer the service last year, and that four people would be needed.

His suggestion if the city did offer free dump days this year was to go back to the way it was done before being taken out of the budget for 2020, which is offering two Tuesdays and two Saturdays for drop off.

“The four days would be the best option if we want to stick with that type of system,” he said, adding for a little more money the city and its residents can get a couple more days.

While Ehrenberg advocated having more free dump days, he shared his staff’s suggestion of giving residents one free, non-transferable dump ticket that is good for 2021 — noting it’s a win for everyone.

"It gives them an opportunity to use it any time of the year; you’ve got somebody that moved out of their rental or their house ... they can get rid of their stuff at no cost any time the compost site is open,” he said.

Ehrenberg added the resident could be limited to one truckload or 8’-by-10’ trailer, preventing the several trips the department sometimes sees individuals make on free dump days. The change also could cut down the line of cars that show up starting at 9 a.m. on the dump days as people will come throughout the year instead.

Another benefit that he pointed out is it would not use any extra labor on a weekend or during the week.

“We can better utilize that labor for other things in the city,” he said, adding there also is no cost to that option as every Monday and Wednesday he has a work order that comes out where somebody goes with a loader and cleans the whole compost site, whether it’s squashing garbage down in the container to get as many ton as it can or pushing brush around. “Whatever needs to be done; that's normal operation.”

The consensus of the Public Works committee, which didn’t have a quorum last week, was to move forward with the free dump day ticket idea.

Ehrenberg will work on drafting the new policy and will bring it back at a future meeting. The next scheduled Public Works meeting is set for Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

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