In the early morning hours Wednesday, the Costa Mesa City Council approved an additional $2.8 million of budget cuts for the city's 2011-12 fiscal year budget, bringing the total savings from the preliminary budget to $6.1 million.
The cuts reduce the city attorney's budget, leave some city staff positions vacant and slash in half the salaries of two economic development consultants.
The pro-business council majority accepted the reductions in order to reserve some money for contingencies, including $1.5 million annually to cover the cost of replacing city vehicles.
Also, it lowered its sales tax estimates by $400,000 to be more conservative. All the changes, along with the balanced budget adopted, fit into the four-person majority's plan to reform city finances.
"It's just basic business principles we need to have," said Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who asked city Chief Executive Tom Hatch to make the changes last week. "I'm very happy with this budget."
The budget was adopted 4 to 1. Councilwoman Wendy Leece dissented.
Hatch proposed leaving some of 29 vacant city positions unfilled, or eliminating some of those empty positions, to save the city a projected $1.1 million.
Also, he pegged $50,000 instead of $100,000 for an economic development consultant, and $20,000 instead of $40,000 for a business tax license consultant.
In another maneuver, Hatch said the city could count on about $1.5 million in savings from restructuring and outsourcing city services. The council will have to decide on those proposals later this year.
Before the council approved the budget, it signed off on a restructuring of the Police Department and decided to keep two school police officers, instead of replacing them with non-sworn police employees.
Also, council members suggested adding reserve officers at the schools, or spreading out the current officers' schedules so they work five days a week, instead of four.
By The Numbers
The City Council approved an additional $2.8 million in cuts to the budget early Wednesday morning:
•$1.5 million from restructuring and outsourcing city services.
•$1.1 million from leaving some of 29 vacant city positions unfilled, or eliminating some of those empty positions.
•$200,000 reduction in the city attorney's budget.
•$50,000 off the budget for a business tax license consultant.
•$20,000 off the budget for a business tax license consultant.