Council to talk about five-year financial forecast

COSTA MESA — The City Council will discuss its five-year financial forecast Tuesday, and true to the council majority's word, the proposal is heavy in capital spending.

Costa Mesa is scheduled to spend about $7.8 million over the next five years on alleys, streets and sidewalks, and $2.5 million on upgrading local sports fields.

The forecast, however, doesn't show any funding for library improvements or planting trees.

The report is preliminary and can be adjusted as city revenues ebb and flow. The proposal also shows that the city also wants to spend $5 million to replenish its equipment replacement fund.

Also absent from the forecast are specific amounts the city wants to allocate toward paying down its liability with the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS). The debt, which changes annually depending on how CalPERS investments perform, is projected to be paid down over 30 years.

The council majority has used that debt as its justification for a string of proposed dramatic changes in Costa Mesa's operations, including possibly outsourcing nearly half of its services to lighten its future pension obligations and last year's cutting of the city's shared police helicopter service with Newport Beach.

The forecast projects that the city will see increased revenue across the board over the next five years, from sales and property tax revenues to more money flowing in from hotel guests.

Revenues are somewhat conservatively projected to smooth out any dips and spikes in a given year. The forecast also does not consider employees contributing to their pensions after each employee group's current contract expires. City employees will also not get a raise in the next three years. They have not received one since the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to the report.

Many city employees get pay increases anyway through step-increases, where the worker's time with the city eventually leads to a higher classification within that job title.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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