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Smith: How would you spend Costa Mesa's surplus?

January 24, 2013|By Steve Smith

In Washington, D.C., reducing the massive U.S. deficit is now the top priority, as it should be.

While the U.S. drowns in red ink, Costa Mesa has a challenge every city would love to have. Today, Costa Mesa has a budget surplus of $2.5 million.

The challenge is that there are a lot of people with a lot of ideas on what should be done with the money. Ask a city employee and you will get one response. Ask an out-of-work construction worker and you will get another.

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Then there are Facebook friends, who often have valuable input on issues. A few days ago, I posed this question to them: "The city of Costa Mesa recently announced a budget surplus of $2.5 million, a nice sum for a town this size. If your city had a significant surplus, what would you advise them to do with the money?"

Costa Mesa resident Jon Zich replied first with, "Save it for the year that they don't ... no-brainer."

Ingrid Anderson, a former Costa Mesa resident and former colleague, suggested a "tax refund to the citizens. I know a few Costa Mesa peeps that could use that."

Chase Rogers, another former colleague who now lives in Florida, wrote, "feed the ducks." I'm not sure what Rogers means, unless he was talking about the professional hockey team, in which case, it would be "feed the Ducks," but I don't think those guys need any food money.

Patt Jordan, an exceptional account manager with whom I worked for several years, thought the money should go toward "fine arts programs in the schools." Jordan may not get her wish, but she brings up an important point: The city and the schools can work far more closely than they have. It's time for the City Council and the school board to start a regular dialogue to determine mutual areas of interest and collaboration to help make the city even better.

Dear family friend and Costa Mesa resident Kathy McIsaac-Miller suggested some support for the less fortunate by noting that, "Fullerton's looking into property to house the mentally ill and homeless...." Her comment reminded me that the recommendations of the city's Homeless Task Force have been sitting on a shelf since they were proposed months ago.

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