Laguna Slows Privatization Study Plans
While making clear that they want to explore the possibility of contracting out some jobs now done by city workers, Laguna Beach City Council members will not commission a task force to study the situation, at least not now.
Instead, council members agreed that they will instead continue talking among themselves about how to proceed.
Municipal employees who attended Tuesday’s meeting expressed relief that the council took no immediate action to form the privatization task force proposed by Councilman Steve Dicterow.
“I think it is good that we were able to buy ourselves some time,” said Joe Chiquete, vice president of the Laguna Beach Municipal Employees Assn. “After they look at it, they’ll see that it’s just not feasible.”
Dicterow had written a memo recommending that the council create a task force to explore whether Laguna Beach might benefit from contracting out more work, a suggestion that caused a stir among municipal workers who feared that their jobs might be in jeopardy.
City employees had an emergency meeting late last week to discuss Dicterow’s proposal, and some attended Tuesday’s meeting to urge the council to put the brakes on privatization.
The city already uses private workers for some city jobs, and the union is concerned that the trend will grow, leading to layoffs.
“Our parks department is scared, our streets department is scared,” Chiquete told the council.
Dicterow said the council’s duty, though, is “to investigate these issues” if they will help the city’s budget situation, a position supported by the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn.
Virtually all council members agreed with Dicterow, but they advocated investigating the benefits and drawbacks to privatization before proceeding. Mayor Kathleen Blackburn said it is premature to create a task force until the council has defined what its goals would be.
The workshop will be scheduled early next year to examine the issues, officials said.