Young's five-year projection did not include employee contributions once their contribution agreements expired.
The cost to the city could feasibly remain where it is if employees continue to contribute, he said.
"It's an assumption. It's subjective, because if employees are requested to, if they come to the table, it would reduce future costs," Young said. "I didn't want to assume if the city were to be negotiating anything in the future, to state one way or the other what those negotiations should entail. If the city chose to negotiate in a certain way, I wouldn't want my projections to guide those negotiations."
But those projections have quickly steered the direction of the city.
The council recently approved issuing more than 200 layoff notices that could take effect in September, and dissolved the police helicopter program it shares with Newport Beach. Officials are considering laying off more than 20 police officers.
In March, city Chief Executive Tom Hatch hired an interim finance director, communications manager and human resources expert, partly to assist in the layoffs. Officials from Cal
PERS, the state's public employee pension fund, said City Hall could be basing decisions more on politics than on real math.
"You'd have some people who, because it's popular right now, blame everything on pensions," said Ed Fong, a spokesman for CalPERS. "That's an ideological thing. There are some people who for whatever reason are adamantly opposed to labor unions."
CalPERS saw its investments suffer significantly because of a downward market and the real estate collapse.
The fund's losses take two to three years to be felt on the local level, meaning Costa Mesa will only start seeing the effects now, CalPERS officials said.