COSTA MESA — Four City Council candidates who squared off in a debate Wednesday night expressed concerns about the city's ailing budget but differed on ways to improve Costa Mesa's financial picture.
For Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer, a conservative, the proposed higher hotel bed taxes and business license fees would hurt the city's reputation and eventually lead businesses and tourists to seek friendlier cities. To solve the budget crisis, Righeimer said the city will have to renegotiate the Police and Fire departments' salaries and benefits.
"We love our police and we love our fire, we just have to come together as adults, sit down and work out the deals," Righeimer, a former Daily Pilot columnist, said during the forum. "This city will file bankruptcy if we don't solve the problem."
He told the audience at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, which hosted the event sponsored by Mesa Verde Community Inc., that the police and fire associations have representatives who are sitting in the back of the room and are watching to see which candidate is going to support them.