Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Talks About Unprecedented City Cuts

Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer spoke with Today in LA’s Ted Chen about the recent Costa Mesa budget that passed, which calls for layoffs of close to half its employees, including several police officers.

"We have to live within our means," said Righeimer. "That means that what we have to spend what we bring in that year, and spend that year."

He rebuffed the idea of using reserves because he said the city was eating up all the reserve funds and if there was a catastrophe the city wouldn’t have the reserve cash it would need.

"The city has spent $33 million in the last three years of reserves on a $100 million budget," Righeimer said. "Last November our city was down to $5 million in cash."

He also talked about what could potentially happen with the workers, who he believes will be hired by the companies hired to do the tasks the city can’t afford.

"These employees are going to be outsourced,” he said. “They will be hired by companies that will come in and do the same work for the city. The cost we save on some of the work rules, 2 and a half weeks of sick pay every single year, 3 to 5 weeks of vacations, pensions."

Righeimer said that the retiring people at 55 at 75% of pay is "unsustainable."

Part of the reduction in services was a 3.5% cut to the police department, which caused Police Chief Steve Stavely to resign.

In his resignation statement, Stavely said the budget was destroying the city:

"They have pushed the Budget process around to get the numbers that benefit their position. They have in essence, lied…to appear as "The White Knight." What they are doing is not fiscal conservatism. It’s the destruction of an institution."

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