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Costa Mesa, California

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Costa Mesa is a city in California.

Website evaluation

This Web site was most recently reviewed an unknown date.

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 4 years.[1]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[2]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[3]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 9 years.
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 9 years.
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[4]
    • Meeting video are available.[5]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2001-2002 are available.[6]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.[7]
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[8]
  • Public Records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the city clerk. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[9]
    • A public records form is provided.[10]
    • A fee schedule for documents is provided.
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.[11]
  • Lobbying
    • The city discloses it's a member of the Assn. of California Cities-Orange County and membership dues for the organization.[12]
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.[13]
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[14]

Mayor Resignation

Citing family and business commitments, Gary Monahan announced his resignation as Costa Mesa mayor in March 2012, but plans to continue serving on the city council. Monahan was first elected to council in 1994 and termed out in 2006. During that period, he served as mayor twice. In 2008, he became mayor for a third time. His term expires in November and he is eligible to run again.[15]

Overtime Issues

In 2011 overtime pay boosted the paychecks of more than 60 Costa Mesa firefighters and police officers by at least 40 percent over their base pay. A handful of fire department employees earned overtime that nearly doubled their base pay. According to the Orange County Register Fire Department Battalion Chief W. Kershaw had the highest compensation in the city last year (base pay of $138,744, $109,525 in overtime, and total compensation of $346,168); No. 2 was Battalion Chief K. Diamond (base of 138,744, overtime of $83,832, and total comp of $313,009); and No. 4 was Fire Captain J. Noceti (base pay of $114,084, overtime of $83,919 and total comp of $283,753).[16]

In 2011 the city issued terminated many staffers and investigated dismantling its fire department in favor of outsourcing. Many firefighters retired or took new jobs elsewhere; they usually weren’t replaced. The rank-and-file had about nine vacancies most of last year. The Orange County Fire Authority had proposed taking over the department with lighter staffing requirements. The present contract calls for 29 people per 24-hour shift. The OCFA proposal said the job could be done with 23 people per shift.[17]

Public Pensions

Several department heads in Costa Mesa have agreed to pay the maximum amount allowed toward their state pensions, something the city council has been pushing for over a year. Costa Mesa is looking to renegotiate with its own employee groups over their pension contributions to help alleviate the increased burden. Most city employees and department leaders already pay toward their retirement, but not at the maximum allowable amount, which left Costa Mesa covering it.[18]

Sunshine Effort

The city council passed a measure known as Civic Openness in Negotiations calls for hiring an independent negotiator, bringing in an independent auditor to report publicly on the fiscal impacts of each contract proposal 30 days before negotiations begin, letting residents know which provisions are off the table and allowing the public to comment on the contract at two meetings before the council takes a vote. Some critics said the new measure should include all council business. Council members said salaries and benefits make up 75 percent of the city's operating budget, making it a higher priority for the council and for transparency.[19]

External links