Proposed budget inches up to $132.3 million

Changes to Costa Mesa's proposed budget were announced Friday, and they include decreasing Smallwood Park's improvement funding by half — $500,000 to $250,000 — and reallocating that money to help other parks' parking lots and concrete walkways.

The City Council will vote on the document Tuesday.

City officials are also proposing adding a full-time volunteer coordinator position at a cost of $91,599, giving $78,000 toward an entryway for the Mesa del Mar neighborhood and upgrading the city's broadcasting systems — including those in the council chambers — for as much as $1.25 million.

The other changes include spending about $7,500 to add R.O.C.K.S, an after-school program, to the Pomona Elementary School campus.

The proposed budget now totals about $132.3 million — a small increase over the $131.8-million proposal examined during the council's June 11 study session — for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins in July. The capital improvement budget stands at $18.5 million, about $2.2 million less than last fiscal year's adopted budget.

Various contributions toward athletics are also requested. About $38,000 is being sought to help keep the Downtown Aquatic Center, 1860 Anaheim Ave., open year-round. It currently is open from April through September.

About $85,000 is also being sought for a fitness program and youth basketball at area elementary schools.


City chief executive contract

The council will also vote Tuesday on whether to raise city CEO Tom Hatch's salary — it would be his first since he started as the city's head administrator in March 2011 — and benefits.

If approved, Hatch's yearly salary would increase to $217,656 from $207,288 last fiscal year.

Hatch would have a "technology allowance" of $250 a month. His car allowance would also be increased from $477 to $650 a month.

The salary increase and allowances would be retroactive to Feb. 1.

Even if he receives the compensation boost, he's also slated to receive some cuts, which he consented to during the budget negotiation process. They include cuts to his yearly vacation time, his maximum vacation accrual and his sick days. He will also contribute more to his pension.

In a commentary published this week in the Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer praised Hatch "for the excellent job he's done over the past two years."

The cuts and raises combined would still cost the city $15,444 more annually.

"Even with the reductions," Righeimer wrote in his Pilot commentary, "Tom will have a generous benefits package that simply can't be found in the private sector, to which hardworking Costa Mesa residents can attest. But if approved, his new contract would still be a major step toward fiscal responsibility."

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