Firefighter contract under discussion

Editor's note: This corrects the time of the meeting.

COSTA MESA — As part of an effort to close the city's budget deficit, the City Council is scheduled to meet in a special session Tuesday to vote on amending portions of the firefighters' employee contract.

If approved, the agreement would save the city $633,400 over 12 months.

Although the employee contract was not up for renewal, and the firefighters were not obligated to open negotiations with the city, members of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. agreed to sit down with city officials to discuss the employee agreement and find ways to make cuts to help the budget deficit.

"As I have said all along, our employees are working hard to help us, as a team together, to solve the budget crisis and I'm very thankful," Councilwoman Katrina Foley said. "They care about our community just like I do, and they are doing what they can to help solve a budget crisis that they did not create."

The firefighters agreed to contribute 5% into their retirement accounts in addition to the 1% they pay now, City Manager Allan Roeder said.

They also agreed to forego a salary increase scheduled to take effect in September. The contributions to their retirement accounts would take effect Oct. 24 and continue for a year, according to a city staff report.

"Is this everything everybody might like it to be? Undoubtedly not," Roeder said. "I think given the circumstance in which we're operating, this is worthy of the City Council's consideration."

In addition to the retirement contribution, the association agreed to pay for an analysis that would compare the cost of services provided by the Fire Department to that of the Orange County Fire Authority, Roeder said.

The results of the analysis, however, would not require the city to contract with the Fire Authority, he said.

Other cities and communities that have joined the authority have retained their local firefighter personnel, Roeder said. In that case, the firefighters would become Authority employees instead of city employees, he said.

"It's important to note that anything absent of analysis could be totally speculative, and you really need to have analysis before you draw any conclusions," Roeder said.

The city continues to negotiate with the rest of its associations, including the Costa Mesa Police Assn.

In other city news, City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow plans to share the results of the investigation into the DUI checkpoint incident involving Planning Commissioner, City Council candidate and former Daily Pilot columnist Jim Righeimer. Righeimer pulled over last month after passing through a checkpoint without incident and then questioned officers about the wisdom of slowing down rush-hour traffic on Harbor Boulevard.

If You Go

What: Costa Mesa City Council special meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Costa Mesa City Hall, 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa.

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