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Fact Check on the Spin From Costa Mesa City Hall Regarding Legal Costs

Back a few weeks ago Costa Mesa’s $3,000 a week PR consultant and all around spin-master Bill Lobdell was crowing about the benefits of outsourcing the City’s legal services. The headline to his release proclaimed: City of Costa Mesa’s legal costs down an average of $550,000 per year. Well in short order I was able to determine that Lobdell was comparing apples and oranges to arrive at his claim.

In reviewing his numbers I found that through the end of the last fiscal year, the city’s base legal costs have risen by more than 30% since Jones and Mayer came on board. Well, that got me thinking, what about this years costs? where are we on that? Since Lobdell is so fond of Fact Checks I did a little Fact Checking myself.

As a result of a Public Records Request submitted last week, I have learned that the costs for legal services provided by Jones & Mayer through May were $1,120,984.51. This compares to a total of $828,195 for all of last year. In eleven months, the City of Costa Mesa has paid Jones & Mayer 35% more than all of the previous year.

In fact, the legal costs to the City of Costa Mesa for services provided by Jones & Mayer are almost 31% more than the highest amount of in house fees paid in the five years preceding the retention of Jones & Mayer. At the current average rate of expenditure the increase in base costs for legal fees will be 42.50% (approx $365,000).

Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

I think I’m beginning to understand why Councilman Jim Righeimer wants a $1 million contingency fund. It’s to cover the unanticipated, yet inevitable, cost overruns due to outsourcing of city services.

City of Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch and Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young will hold an informal question-and-answer session about the City’s proposed 2011-12 budget at 6 p.m. Thursday (today) in conference room 1A at City Hall.

The meeting is designed to answer budget questions from citizens in an informal setting. The City Council is scheduled to approve the 2011-12 budget at its June 21 meeting. If more time is needed, a special council meeting will be scheduled for June 28.

City Hall is at 77 Fair Drive.

One Comment

  1. The Potstirrer The Potstirrer June 16, 2011

    Chris, thanks for providing this information. These guys are just unbelievable! (I meant that word, “unbelievable” both as an exclamatory statement and a statement of fact)

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