H.B. to study sharing services with Costa Mesa, Newport [Corrected]

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday to commission a study to share services with Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, with some members saying the need for money overcame their reservations about Costa Mesa’s politics.

An earlier version incorrectly stated that the Huntington Beach City Council agreed to partner with Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The city has in fact agreed to study sharing services with the two cities.

The council voted 5 to 2, with Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw opposing. Councilman Devin Dwyer said it was important during tough economic times for cities to think regionally in terms of saving funds.

“I don’t believe this endorses what Costa Mesa is doing,” he said. “We’re just looking for their money.”

Costa Mesa’s council recently voted to lay off about half of its employees and research whether to outsource their jobs. The move generated heated responses from employees and residents, and a judge ruled that the city may not outsource its jobs to private agencies until after a lawsuit on the matter is heard.

Boardman said the recent turmoil in Costa Mesa made her wary of partnering with the city.

“They propose to lay off half their staff, but then they hire a PR person at $3,000 a week,” she said.

However, colleague Don Hansen said Huntington Beach should not concern itself with other cities’ politics, a view that others on the dais seconded.

“Let’s not create some segregated group of cities that we will work with while demonizing or marginalizing those we won’t,” he said.

The council also voted 4 to 3 to extend the contract of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. Hansen urged the council to vote against the extension and create a two-tiered retirement system that he said would ease the burden on the general fund, but his alternate motion failed.

Dwyer agreed with Hanson, saying residents foot too much of the bill for officers’ pensions.

“We owe this to taxpayers, and we owe it to the next generation,” he said.

Shaw said he also favored a two-tiered system eventually but argued that the city would lose money if the council rejected the police union’s current offer. Police began contributing 4.25% toward their retirement last year, which would expire in September and go back to 2.25% for 18 months.

“If we do not do this, we get nothing,” Shaw said.

The original motion ultimately passed, with Hansen, Dwyer and Matthew Harper opposing.