Huntington Beach officials not sold on sharing services with Costa Mesa

The Huntington Beach City Council plans to vote Monday on whether it should study sharing services with neighboring Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

While the majority on the Huntington Beach council seems to support the initial study, working with politically charged Costa Mesa may not be an easy sell for some officials.

At least two Huntington council members are unwilling to work with Costa Mesa, and one said he would support the concept only if Huntington Beach called the shots.

"I have no problem with reaching out to be more efficient with the services we're offering our communities and cooperate with surrounding cities like Newport, Westminster, Fountain Valley and Seal Beach, but not Costa Mesa," said Councilwoman Connie Boardman.

Costa Mesa's council majority has taken what many say are drastic measures to cut costs to close the budget gap. The council voted to lay off about half of its employees and research whether to outsource their jobs. The move was met with many challenges and a judge recently ruled that the city may not outsource its jobs to private agencies until after a lawsuit on the matter is heard.

Costa Mesa Councilman Steve Mensinger said the council members he has talked to like the concept of sharing services. He did not give details, however, of whom he specifically spoke with.

"It isn't what I've heard, but that's maybe what they told you," he said. "They have to do what's best for their city, and we have to do what's best for our city."

Boardman said the rate at which Costa Mesa employees are resigning and the number of interim department heads the city has are reason enough for Huntington Beach not to partner with Costa Mesa at this time.

"I have concerns with entering into contracts with policymakers in a city who are making, in my opinion, poor decisions," she said. "The council, I believe, has made the situation worse than it is."

Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Shaw is interested in working with cities other than Costa Mesa.

Huntington's level of services might be severely impacted if Costa Mesa's politicians were in charge, and some important programs like the helicopter service might be eliminated altogether, Councilman Keith Bohr said.

He and Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer don't always see eye to eye.

"Righeimer is a professional acquaintance of mine. I like the guy," Bohr said. "I just professionally differ with him, maybe not on the end result, but on how they're going about it."

Councilman Don Hansen, who tends to take a harder stance on public agencies' spending, said when it comes to sharing services, no one should not be concerned with Costa Mesa's politics.

"Dollars and cents are dollars and cents," he said. "They're trying to demonize Costa Mesa's leadership, and I just don't buy that at all."

Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio said he would have no problem working with Costa Mesa as long as it's fair to Huntington Beach and its employees, and as long as it's not done for political gain.

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