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Costa Mesa CEO: Jump In OT Pay Cheaper Than Hiring More Police, Firefighters

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(CBS) Mike Landa
Mike Landa is KNX Newsradio's Orange County Bureau Chief. For more...
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COSTA MESA (CBS) — The city payroll for Costa Mesa emergency personnel ballooned by 40 percent last year due largely to overtime pay, according to new data released Thursday.

KNX 1070′s Mike Landa reports City Hall wants taxpayers to know there is a good explanation.


As many as 60 firefighters and police officers saw their paychecks grow in a trend that even pushed the total compensation package for one fire battalion chief as high as $346,000 last year.

Hundreds of Costa Mesa city employees including police officers and other workers were laid off last June in a move designed to help the city bring its spending under control.

But less than one month later, a Superior Court judge intervened and barred the city from outsourcing those jobs.

CEO Tom Hatch said despite the eye-popping paychecks, paying for overtime was still cheaper than hiring more firefighters.

“Instead of having a full-time position that’s salary and benefits, we’re just paying overtime at time-and-a-half on salary only, and so there is some additional savings there,” said Hatch.

Instead of having its own fire department, Costa Mesa may join the regional Orange County Fire Authority, Hatch added.

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