Readers Respond: Will outsourcing hurt or help Costa Mesa?

The Costa Mesa City Council may vote tonight on outsourcing many city functions, including fire and emergency medical services, park maintenance, building inspection, street maintenance and animal control.

If approved, nearly 200 employees could receive pink slips — a tally from the city budget’s listings for the 18 services under consideration. That figure includes full-time employees and part-time equivalents. Some estimates of the total employees at risk have been lower, about 150.

Without those employees on payroll, the city could save on future pension costs, some officials contend.

The city’s budget deficit is nearly balanced, so these savings would target long-term retirement costs. About $15 million of the city’s $90-million budget pays for employee pensions. In the next five years, that figure could rise to more than $25 million, according to financial department projections.

Some employees may receive a pink slip, but would then not be laid off depending on the council’s future actions. If the city chooses to contract with the Orange County Fire Authority, for instance, about 90 Costa Mesa firefighters and emergency medical personnel could transfer to that agency. Other employees could be laid off in six months.

What do you think of this proposal? Do you like the level of service that city employees provide? Are the looming pension costs serious enough to warrant this type of outsourcing?