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H.B. agrees to study sharing services with Newport, Costa Mesa

Huntington expected to pay for a third of the cost, or $27,225

some city officials wary of working with politically charged Costa Mesa.

August 02, 2011|By Mona Shadia and Michael Miller, mona.shadia@latimes.com, michael.miller@latimes.com

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday to study sharing services with neighboring Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

Huntington Beach is expected to pay for a third of the cost, or $27,225, to examine whether it makes sense to share some services among the three cities.

Surf City officials, however, said they were distancing themselves from the political climate in Costa Mesa, which is examining whether city workers can be replaced with outside contractors.

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"I don't believe this endorses what Costa Mesa is doing," Councilman Devin Dwyer said. "We're just looking for their money."

Once the study is conducted, the council is expected to review the results and decide whether to work with the two cities.

While the majority of the council agreed to conduct the study, actually sharing services could be a tough sell.

Councilman Keith Bohr, who voted in favor of the study, said he would be willing to work with Costa Mesa if Huntington Beach is the lead agent.

"When we say sharing services, in this case, I believe it would be us providing services to them," he said. "I'm certainly comfortable providing contractual services to another city rather than being dependent on another to contract services to us."

Bohr said he would worry about Huntington Beach's level of service if Costa Mesa became the one to make the decisions.

Mayor Joe Carchio said he's on board as long as it's done for the right reasons.

"If the study proves that we can do it effectively, it would be a good thing," he said in an interview. "I wouldn't want to do it for any political gain, for any political party or individual."

The Costa Mesa council voted earlier this year to lay off about half of its employees and research whether to outsource their jobs. The move was met with many challenges, and a judge recently ruled that Costa Mesa may not outsource its jobs to private agencies until after a lawsuit on the matter is heard.

Huntington Beach Councilman Don Hansen said his city should not be concerned with Costa Mesa politics.

"Let's not create some segregated group of cities that we will work with while demonizing or marginalizing those we won't," he said.

The council voted 5 to 2, with council members Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw dissenting. The two oppose doing any business with Costa Mesa's politicians, who they say don't have their priorities in order, have exaggerated the city's financial challenges and harmed its employees and residents.

"They propose to lay off half their staff, but then they hire a PR person at $3,000 a week," Boardman said.

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