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Costa Mesa council expands fire outsourcing to other public agencies [Corrected]

July 20, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The city will entertain offers from other public agencies that want to partner with or absorb the Fire Department while City Hall continues to discuss contracting with the Orange County Fire Authority.

Suggesting that the OCFA's proposal to serve Costa Mesa is less expensive than continuing an independent municipal agency, City Council members Tuesday instructed city staff to seek proposals from other public agencies, including Newport Beach.

For its part, the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. endorsed OCFA's third option for serving Costa Mesa, which would close one fire station and result in several layoffs, while the rest of department personnel would be folded into the county organization.

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Residents complimented the council on how they're handling the Fire Department's outsourcing — study first, make a decision after — but lined up to complain when contract extensions were up for discussion.

Both former Daily Pilot editor William Lobdell and GrowthPort Partners had their consulting contracts extended for a total cost of $120,000.

Lobdell, the city spokesman, will get paid up to $70,000 through December, on top of the $50,000 he's received already. GrowthPort Partners, which is assisting the city in layoffs, will get another $50,000 through next June.


FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly stated Costa Mesa spokesman William Lobdell received $30,000 already.

In addition, city Chief Executive Tom Hatch caught flak for adding a $20,000 contingency to its contract with a private company to redesign the city's website. The city pitched the redesign as a $50,000 project — the same amount as the contract signed with Vision Internet Providers Inc.

However, Hatch added an extra $20,000, arguing that as the site redesign takes shape, the city should not lose its "momentum" and should use that money to add even more features.

City Hall critics accused Hatch of misrepresenting the project's true costs to the other bidders and the public. Hatch denied the claim.

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