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Costa Mesa council to review police contracts and weigh naming new city attorney during first meeting of 2019

Costa Mesa council to review police contracts and weigh naming new city attorney during first meeting of 2019
The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday will review proposed contracts with two unions representing members of the city Police Department. (File Photo)

Costa Mesa City Council members will roll up their sleeves Tuesday to tackle a meaty agenda that includes two proposed police contracts and potentially naming a new city attorney.

The recently reconfigured council’s first meeting of the new year will include proposed memorandums of understanding with the Costa Mesa Police Assn. — which represents rank-and-file officers — and the Costa Mesa Police Management Assn., which consists of higher-ranking personnel.

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The agreement with the rank-and-file association would cover 127 people and run through June 30, 2020, according to a city staff report. Its provisions are largely the same as the city’s previous pact with the group, which was approved in April 2016 and expired last June.

The one major change is that association members would be entitled to a flexible benefit contribution of $1,375 per month for health insurance, with that amount rising to $2,119 on July 1. The resulting cumulative cost to the city would be about $4.5 million over the life of the contract.

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The pact’s total cost would be $31.9 million in the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year.

The proposed agreement with the management association covers eight employees and would provide them a series of four 3% salary increases between now and July 1, 2021. Members of the group last received a pay raise in 2008, according to city staff.

Those employees also would gradually boost their retirement contributions until they are putting 14% of their pay into their pensions by July 1, 2020.

Under the agreement — running through June 30, 2022 — members of the management association would be entitled to a $75 monthly technology allowance and flexible benefit contributions of $2,119 per month for health insurance. Lieutenants could receive $1,000 per fiscal year for professional development.

The contract’s overall cost is calculated at $1.7 million.

Before adoption, both contracts would need to come back for final council review and approval at a future meeting.

Next city attorney could be former city attorney

Council members also are slated to decide whether to bring a familiar face back to City Hall and designate Kimberly Hall Barlow as city attorney.

Barlow previously held the title for more than six years until she resigned in March 2011, citing personal and business reasons. Her replacement, Tom Duarte, filled the position since.

Barlow and Duarte are partners at the law firm Jones & Mayer, which Costa Mesa has contracted for city attorney services since 2004. A city staff report says Jones & Mayer proposed the switch.

Duarte’s tenure has run into some rough patches. During a meeting in March, council members Katrina Foley and John Stephens — both of whom are lawyers — raised issues with the legal representation Costa Mesa has received in various cases, including court documents being incomplete or not filed on time and questions about whether Duarte was proactive enough in providing legal advice and opinions.

Both said at the time that they supported going out to bid to see whether another firm could better serve the city.

However, some observers believed the pair’s criticism actually stemmed from the council’s decision in November 2017 to remove Foley from her appointed role as mayor and replace her with Councilwoman Sandy Genis. Duarte and Stephens disagreed at the time on whether the council could take that action.

However, Stephens said in March that he was “way, way over it” and had “no animosity toward Mr. Duarte” or any other Jones & Mayer attorneys.

Foley went on to defeat Genis in November’s race to become the city’s first directly elected mayor.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St.

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