Budget Continued & Joint Powers Authority Created
Tonight the Costa Mesa City Council chose to kick the budget can on down the street instead of attempting to rush to judgment on some of the issues. That was probably a good choice.
IMPORTANT LATE INFORMATION
The council received some late staff reports as the meeting was convening. Those reports will be posted on the City web site tomorrow for residents to review. The first, a summary of 19 suggestions from the Costa Mesa City Employee Association (CMCEA) and the second, a summary of 25 questions from the Budget Study Session from last week, had some excellent suggestions/observations that really require some time to consider. I had a chance after the meeting to review both reports and agree with the decision to continue this issue until a special meeting at 5:30 on Tuesday, June 22.
NEW FUNDING SOURCES?
It is hoped that a resolution will be prepared for the council's consideration to place an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax on the November ballot. Based on comments from individual council members, there may be a problem getting agreement on a specific number. Katrina Foley suggested a 3% increase while Gary Monahan suggested 2% and a 1% increase in the fee for the Business Improvement Association - those 10 hotels in town that presently access an additional 2% over our basic TOT, which is returned to them to be used for business development. Monahan's suggestion would give them 3% on top of whatever the basic TOT turns out to be. I agree with City Manager Allan Roeder - anything less than 3% will not accomplish what is necessary. In years past a 1% increase would represent about $1 million in additional revenue. Today it's about $600,000 due to the economic downturn.
GRASS-ROOTS FUND RAISING A SUCCESS
It was mentioned by Foley that her "swing-a-thon" over the past week to raise funds for the ROCKS programs for youth recreation has been extremely successful, raising over $35,000 with more contributions expected.
AD HOC COMMITTEE
Mention was also made by several speakers about the Community Budget Workshop, previously covered at this site. They supported creation of some kind of ad hoc group to meet and discuss budget issues throughout the year and to report to the council instead of trying to address them with any real significance so late in the game.
The council also agreed to extend the moratorium on massage parlors for another year due to a delay in pending state legislation that will affect all such establishments.
FIRST JOINT POWERS AUTHORITY MEETING
Then the first meeting of the Joint Powers Authority created for the purchase of the Fairgrounds was conducted and the bylaws approved. For some reason, Allan Mansoor and Monahan bailed out before this meeting convened, so that left only Eric Bever, Wendy Leece and Foley to kick off this new organization... very peculiar. In an even more peculiar event, Bever voted NO on the bylaws. In fact, he voted NO on many issues tonight, including continuing the budget discussion. He's one strange dude.
ORANGE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AUTHORITY
The organization will be officially known as the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority (OCFA) and will have regularly scheduled meetings and, at least in the beginning, the officers will be the City Council wearing another dress. No copy of the resolution formally creating the organization was available - another strange situation. It will be presented to the board at the next meeting, immediately following the special council meeting next Tuesday, at which time we hope ALL the members will be present.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BRIEFING
Roeder, who will perform as Executive Director of the OCFA briefed the board and public on recent events. He told us that, although the past couple weeks the city negotiating team had been meeting late into the night with representatives of Facilities Management West, trying to hammer out the nuts and bolts of a deal, those meetings were temporarily placed in a pause mode while City representatives negotiated with State representatives on the deal.
ANTICIPATING A DEAL THIS WEEK
He hopes to have the final bullet points of the deal with Facilities Management West resolved this week so it can be presented to the State, along with a check from Facilities Management West for the deposit on the transaction.
CAN'T WORRY ABOUT THE LEGISLATION - YET
Roeder also mentioned the potential difficulties with the legislation necessary to complete the deal, indicating that their first priority is to get the deal done, then worry about the legislation. He did say the legislation has been drafted, but didn't indicate by whom. You will recall that the legislature's Latino Caucus has threatened to block this legislation because of Mansoor's "Rule of Law City" resolution.
THE HARD WORK CONTINUES
So, for the next few days it will be more midnight oil for Roeder and the negotiating team until the deal is finished. He indicated that there may be something for the new OCFA board to consider at the next meeting on Tuesday next week.
TUESDAY'S THE DAY
Next Tuesday may be a very big day in our city, with the budget and, perhaps, a Fairgrounds deal finalized. We'll see...