Costa Mesa To Investigate Combining Services With Others
Recently renewed Costa Mesa Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, issued the following Press Release just after noon today:
City to explore joint services with Newport, Huntington
COSTA MESA, CALIF. - The neighboring cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach will formally explore the viability of combining five municipal services to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.
After preliminary discussions, officials with the three cities have decided to study five areas as potential candidates for shared services: Police Special Weapons and tactics (SWAT) services; lifeguard services; jail services; animal control services; and police and fire dispatch services.
To facilitate an in-depth analysis of the impact of shared services, Management Partners, Inc. has been contracted to prepare a study. Each city will pay a third of the $81,675 fee ($27,225 will be Costa Mesa's share).
The overall goal of the report will be to assess the intial and long-term costs and savings for shared municipal services, along with the implementation and service-level needs.
The study will start within the next few weeks and is scheduled to be completed within five months.
STUDIES MAKE SOME SENSE
From my view, these studies make some sense. In these troubled fiscal times we cannot ignore potential opportunities to combine certain public safety-related functions if it can be done without any drop in service levels and can save the cities tax dollars.
WILL THEY IGNORE THE CONSULTANTS AGAIN?
It's interesting that the consultant chosen, Management Partners, Inc., is the same outfit Costa Mesa contracted with to do the restructuring evaluation of the Costa Mesa Police Department a few months ago. After spending thousands of dollars on the study, done by an organization with decades of experience under it's collective belt, the micro-managing element of the City Council rejected their recommendations and arbitrarily "picked a number" for the staffing level of the department. It was that scenario that caused former Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - a legend in California law enforcement - to depart, leaving in his wake a scathing memo that pointed out the deficiencies of this council.
SHORT STAFFING IS ALREADY SHOWING
I can tell you from very recent first-hand personal experience that the residents and visitors to our city are not going to be served well by the reduced staffing levels. We are going to have an under-staffed police department that will, necessarily, be forced to work more overtime hours to meet the crime-fighting demands in our city. They will be exhausted by the continued extended schedules and, sadly, will likely begin to make mistakes because of the stress and pressure of those extended hours.
IS THIS "OUTSOURCING"
Does this move violate the terms of the Preliminary Injunction recently imposed by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann in the outsourcing case between the City and the CMCEA? It seems like it might. If so, and the City decides to proceed with this study, are there legal consequences?
HOPING FOR NO CALAMITIES
We can only hope that there are no serious incidents as a result of this short-staffing situation.