Costa Mesa budget moves toward approval

More than a year's worth of policy decisions are coming full circle Tuesday when the Costa Mesa City Council will likely approve a budget that is heavy with infrastructure spending.

What started as a budget surplus and became a deficit is now considered a balanced budget, one that's ready for approval for fiscal year 2012-13 with nearly $20 million in street, sidewalk and parks spending.

Since early last year, the council majority has been pushing to scale down the city's payroll in order to boost spending in capital projects.

The proposed budget nearly doubles last year's spending in capital projects, lays off four workers and removes up to 11 vacant positions.

About $1 million will be budgeted as a contingency for unexpected needs, and $500,000 will be set aside toward the city's long-term goal of buying a local motel that demands a disproportionate amount of police attention.

The council is also expected to approve outsourcing more city services more than a year since it approved sending out hundreds of layoff notices to city workers.

City staff recommends Costa Mesa approve using the county for printing and binding services, create a hybrid of in-house and outsourced work for graphic design, and contract with five companies for building safety and fire prevention inspections.

The agenda recommends that Costa Mesa rework its request for proposal on facilities maintenance and put it out for bid again, as the lone responding company didn't fully comply with the city's request.

The city will also consider ending its contract with Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, the same auditing firm that the city of Bell used while its leaders were allegedly ripping off the public by millions of dollars.

City staff also recommends that Costa Mesa sign on for another three years with Huntington Beach for police helicopter services after grounding its shared helicopter program with Newport Beach last year.

Lastly, the council is looking to solidify its opposition to one of three Orange County Transportation Authority proposals to widen the San Diego (405) Freeway, while possibly endorsing one of the other two that affects residents the least.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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