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City Council discusses five-year budget plan

Costa Mesa officials want to put millions toward street repairs, vehicle maintenance and reserve funds.

July 13, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Reiterating its plan to inject millions into street repairs, vehicle maintenance and cash reserves, the City Council on Tuesday established expansive financial goals for the city in the next five years.

"I see this as introducing the items, looking for some broad feedback, some broad direction, as we move forward," said city Chief Executive Tom Hatch.

Admittedly offering some conservative estimates for revenue over the next five years, city staff gave reports that showed Costa Mesa can expect about $16 million more in revenue over the next five years, with total expenditures increasing by about $10 million.

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"I think what's most important here is that we set a goal we want to accomplish something," Councilman Steve Mensinger said.

One of the city staff reports available Tuesday outlined how Costa Mesa could spend its excess revenue through 2016.

If operating on a zero-based budget annually — with sales-tax increases growing at a steady 3% and city employees continuing to contribute to their pensions — Costa Mesa could have millions to invest in priority projects.

The city predicts it will save $17 million over five years through some Police Department restructuring and other reorganization moves.

City staff suggested investing $2.5 million into the general fund reserves, $4.5 million into the equipment replacement fund, and $4.5 million into street repairs, an amount that would be on top of the normal budgeted amount.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer called for more money to fix the city's alleys — deemed its worst roadways — and up to $800,000 over the next five years to plant some 8,000 trees in the city.

Later, Mensinger and Councilman Eric Bever called for the city's financial policy statement to mandate 10% to 15% of the general fund to capital expenditures. The policy is at 5% as it stands now.

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