Thursday, January 09, 2014

Charter Committee Turns For Home

The Costa Mesa Charter Committee met Wednesday night for their first meeting of the new year and made good progress toward their goal of presenting a finished document by the end of February.

Guided by facilitators Dr. Kirk Bauermeister and Dr. Mike Decker, the committee briskly moved through a couple of pending items with a collegial approach to the decision-making process.
In the case of Council Members compensation, the committee overwhelmingly resolved to include in the Charter a segment providing for an annual stipend of $25,000, a portion of which could be used to purchase health care coverage if individual council members chose to do so.  In an interesting sidebar, announced City Council candidate and committee member Lee Ramos expressed concern that candidates need to know what they're signing up for - meaning himself and others running this year.  I smiled.

They then moved on to the subject of Budget Reserves.  After significant discussion, on a 9-2 vote, they resolved to place a strong statement about the need for having healthy emergency reserves, but NOT to include any requirement within the Charter document itself.

Following a break they took up, once again, the issue raised by member Hank Panian - to consider the possibility of foregoing property tax revenue in the interest of tax equity.  His contention was that new buyers were being unfairly taxed base on current property values when compared to homeowners who purchased before 1975 - and the advent of Proposition 13.  This issue had been discussed in two previous meetings, but any decision was withheld until staff provided them with relevant data.  Interim Finance Director Steve Dunivent gave them most of what they asked for in a format that made it easy to understand.  Among the more interesting statistics provided were that 14% of Costa Mesa city parcels are based on 1975 or earlier assessments.  69% are assessed at the land base values between 1980 - 2000.

As a result of the analysis of this information and serious discussion, the committee overwhelmingly - on a vote of 10-1 - decided NOT to address this issue in the Charter.  I must state that during all the discussions on this issue over three meetings the committee worked hard at fleshing out the possible value of this idea with civility and respect.  It was given a fair hearing from my perspective in the Peanut Gallery.  Read Brad Zint's piece from the Daily Pilot HERE.

They also addressed the Charter Review issue again, assessing two choices for wording in the Charter as possibilities.  They ended up with a hybrid of both that reads as follows:

"Every 10 years, the City Council shall form a Charter Review Committee to review the existing City Charter and determine whether any amendments, modifications or repeal of its provisions are necessary.  The City Council may, at its discretion, appoint a Charter Review Committee at any time."

They began a discussion on the Unfunded Pension Liability issue again.  According to member Gene Hutchins - also a member of the Pension Oversight Committee which met earlier Wednesday - that committee is not prepared yet to provide information that would be helpful to the Charter Committee.  Regardless, after some discussion, it was decided to ask the Chairman of the Pension Committee, Jeff Arthur - who sat in on part of the meeting last night -  to make a presentation to the Charter Committee at its meeting on January 22nd.

The work schedule for that meeting will include Outsourcing, City Owned Land, the Preamble and a review of the document.  It's likely that, with three more meetings remaining in their schedule, they will be prepared to present a document to the City Council by the end of February.  We'll see...

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

This doesn't sound good.
"Every 10 years, the City Council shall form a Charter Review Committee to review the existing City Charter and determine whether any amendments, modifications or repeal of its provisions are necessary. The City Council may, at its discretion, appoint a Charter Review Committee at any time."

Residents could end up with a situation such as we have now, and be unable to do anything about it AGAIN, as the city council may run roughshod over it. THIS IS NOT GOOD!

I'm not voting for this crap.

1/09/2014 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Did they discuss how they are going to try and sell this to the masses after the trouncing of the last charter proposal?

1/09/2014 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Funny you should ask, Mike. That's been a recurring theme during the Charter Committee meetings. Several members have said, one way or the other, that they have to be mindful that "we need to be able to sell this to the voters."

I've always thought that was a curious view of their role - as snake oil hucksters, trying to peddle a bogus product.

Silly me.. I thought they were charged to "determine if we need a charter" - Jim Righemer's words - and then to craft the BEST, most appropriate for Costa Mesa, Charter possible. I didn't thing their job was to sell it.

1/09/2014 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Well, Geoff, when you run the city like a business, you have to sell the product, be it snake oil or crude or toilet paper of horse manure. So keep pushing that special brand!

1/09/2014 12:46:00 PM  

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