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Costa Mesa Not On Brink Of Financial Ruin?

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Michele_Gile_08062010 Michele Gile
Michele joined KCAL in 1990 as the Orange County reporter and she has...
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COSTA MESA (CBS) — An independent auditor hired by Costa Mesa’s Employee Union says there is more than $26 million available to be used in the city’s general fund for the upcoming fiscal year.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa spoke with auditor Steve Foti, who says the city is going to have $12 million more in resources than they had anticipated when they adopted the budget last year, which he attributes to spending cuts and higher-than-expected tax revenue.

But union officials claim this proves the city’s financial situation isn’t as dire as many are being led to believe it is.

For months, the majority of Costa Mesa’s City Council have been saying that the city is on the brink of insolvency.

“They’ve been using that as justification for their wholesale outsourcing of city services and the mass layoffs. They laid off more than 200 city employees and they’ve said they had no other alternatives,” Jennifer Muir with the Orange County Employees Association.

On Monday, CBS2 spoke to Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer after the interim Police Chief Steve Staveley blasted the City Council majority as “unethical and immoral.”

In his resignation letter, Staveley accused council members of lying as they create the appearance of a crisis.

“I don’t know how out of touch you have to be to not understand that cities have budget crisis’s. I understand that he doesn’t want any cuts out of his department and I think he wants to go out in some strange way,” Righeimer said.

Former Costa Mesa Mayor Sandy Genis, who has gone over the new budget, agrees with the auditor that there is money to spend.

If there isn’t and if the fiscal crisis is so deep, why, she asks are there unnecessary expenditures in the budget.

“During the hearing it came out that they were buying iPads for all the council members and presumably, when you buy the iPad, you’re also buying the service provider monthly,” she said. “If we’re that out of money, why are we buying iPads for our council members?”

Meantime, the Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on a budget plan that could reduce the city’s police force by eight full-time officers.

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