Special Budget Briefing Tuesday
The Costa Mesa City Council, in its ongoing quest for greater transparency in government, will hold the first-of-its-kind Special Budget Briefing Study Session on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall. Most study sessions are held in Conference Room 1A, but the anticipated community interest in this subject caused it to be moved to Council Chambers.
LIVE AND IN LIVING COLOR...
Because this meeting will be held in Council Chambers it will be televised LIVE on CMTV, Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) and Channel 99 (ATT U-verse) so residents who choose not to come to City Hall can still view this informative meeting in real time. It will also be streamed live on the City web site for those who prefer to view it that way.
THREE AGENDA ITEMS
On the agenda for discussion will be the following three items:
1 - Update on Current Budget and the Budget Development Process
2 - Status and Update on City CalPERS Rates and Unfunded Liability
3 - Overview and Update on City Fund Balance
EXPERTS TO PROVIDE CLARITY (WE HOPE)
Each of those items will be of great interest and this time around the council will hear from two, count 'em, two PERS experts, Rick Santos, a Senior Actuary from CalPERS and John Bartel, an expert in PERS rates who has served many southern California cities in navigating through the PERS morass. It is hoped that we will finally get some information devoid of political spin on this issue. (NOTE: My favorite definition of an "expert": "ex" is an unknown quantity and "spurt" is a drip under pressure. Sorry, but I just couldn't resist)
BIG CHANGE IN PUBLIC COMMENTS PROCEDURES
As is the case in all Study Sessions, speakers will be permitted to address ONLY those issues on the agenda. In all previous Study Sessions comments were restricted to 2 minutes in the beginning with a maximum time limit for all comments. However - in a move that should please most concerned speakers - according to the information given at the most recent City Council meeting by Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch, residents will be given 3 minutes and will be able to ask questions after EACH segment and receive answers at that time. This is a HUGE change in policy and one that almost certainly guarantees a protracted study session.
WITH CROSSED FINGERS...
This special meeting should be very interesting. It has the potential to brush aside the politically-charged rhetoric that has marked the discussion of the City's financial condition in recent months and provide the council and the residents with some real, actual numbers and some clarity provided by experts. I guess we'll see...