COSTA MESA — The city's spending priorities for the next fiscal year will be up for full discussion with the public Tuesday when City Council conducts its latest study session on the preliminary budget leading up to its passage by the end of June.
Given the political climate in Costa Mesa in the last few months, expect thorough debate on where the council is looking to put its dollars. The preliminary budget shows a $5 million increase in maintenance and operations spending and a $1.7 million drop in salaries and benefits, mostly the result of cuts to police staff, programs and increased employee contributions to their pensions.
The city projects about a $3.3 million shortfall in the preliminary budget despite increased revenue. Because the council majority has pledged to approve the budget only if expenditures match revenues without dipping into reserves, the council Tuesday and in the following meetings will have to find places to trim.