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Costa Mesa to cut 26 city jobs

Councilman Bever has heated exchange with Councilwoman Foley, who opposed layoffs of 24 full-time employees.

June 22, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

The Costa Mesa City Council voted Tuesday to approve the city's 2010-11 fiscal year budget after nearly three hours of back-and-forth debate and attempts by council members to save some of the programs and employees' jobs. Councilwoman Katrina Foley, refusing to support the layoffs, cast the sole dissenting vote.

The council voted to eliminate many city programs and 24 full-time positions. Twenty-six other positions were reduced to part time or left vacant. The city also plans to reduce hours for another 26 part-time positions to help balance the budget.

Costa Mesa is facing a projected $16.4-million deficit in next year's budget. The program cuts and layoffs account for about $8.4 million in savings. An $8 million deficit remains.

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The City Council also voted to add the much sought-after Recreation on Campus for Kids After School (ROCKS) program into the budget, the Youth Sports Programs, and keep the recreational coordinator position while it looks for grants and matching funds to finance them.

The City Council will revisit the programs' costs in August to see if enough funds were generated to keep them. If in August enough funds were not generated, the programs will be eliminated.

Costa Mesa will retain Yolanda Macias, an animal control officer, a move that relieved many of her supporters.

The city also plans to increase its animal licensing fees to generate funds and support Macias' position.

The City Council also voted to place a 2% increase to the transient occupancy tax, or hotel tax, on the November ballot. If passed, Costa Mesa's hotel tax would still remain lower than the county average.

Foley attempted to gain support for a 3% increase, but her motion failed.

Before voting on the budget, Foley motioned to adopt the budget without laying off any of the employees, leading the city manager and his staff to ask for a break to discuss how such a proposal would work.

When asked how can the city make up for $2.2 million it would save through layoffs, Foley suggested using the city's reserve funds.

Foley's position led to a heated exchange between her and Councilman Eric Bever, who views things from the other end of the spectrum.

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