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City may cut 51 in staff

Costa Mesa officials, facing double-digit drop in sales and hotel tax revenue, to discuss issue at study session Tuesday.

May 10, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

*****Correction: Sunday’s article, “City may cut 51 in staff,” should have said that the city of Costa Mesa is considering cutting 51 full-time positions or reducing them to part-time, as well as cutting 26 part-time positions.****

Costa Mesa might lay off as many as 51 city workers to help plug an $8-million budget gap next fiscal year, according to a new city report.

The Costa Mesa Police Department would bear the brunt of the cuts, with 22 full-time positions and nine part-time jobs potentially on the line, according to a City Council staff report. The layoffs would affect both sworn officers and civilian police department employees, said Police Chief Christopher Shawkey.

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“These are certainly difficult times for everyone,” Shawkey said. “We’ve done the best we can over the last few years to reduce our budget while still providing excellent service to the community. We’re at the point now where we need to make additional cuts and it looks like it’s going to affect personnel, but I’m confident we will still be able to provide the best of service to the community.”

The Costa Mesa City Council will discuss possible budget cuts at a study session at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The city also is considering keeping about 70 unfilled positions vacant, renegotiating pay and benefits with employee unions, and cutting city services, according to the report.

The city is looking at cutting costs in the face of double-digit declines in sales tax and hotel tax revenues.

“It’s been bad for a couple of years and it’s not getting better,” Councilman Gary Monahan said. “Our revenues are still less than expected — we knew a couple of months ago it was going to be pretty hard.”

Mid fiscal year, Costa Mesa’s sales tax revenues were down about 7.1% from last year’s numbers, city staff reported.

The city is projecting an additional, steady 5% decline in sales tax revenues through the end of the year.

Hotel tax revenues are down even more. The last State Board of Equalization receipt to the city was nearly 14% lower than the same time last year.

Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.

The city prioritizes possible budget cuts using a 25-to-0-point rating system to rank the importance of funding everything from youth sports programs to animal control officers.

Residents can also give their input on potential budget cuts by downloading the rating form from the city website, www.ci.costa-mesa.ca.us.

“These are just preliminary discussions, and we will not be voting on Tuesday — all of this data still need to be collected,” Councilwoman Wendy Leece said. “It’s a tough homework assignment for all of us.”


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