Based upon questionable savings Costa Mesa Council votes to Outsource two service areas

Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt
Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

In a meeting that ran until 3:00 a.m. Wednesday, the Costa Mesa City Council majority led by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, voted to outsource two city services to private contractors. Those decisions will be prevented from implementation until the lawsuit, filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association—the union representing most of the affected city, is resolved.

The council voted 4-1 to contract out street sweeping and jail services. Based upon contractor and city estimates, the contracting out of street sweeping services will save about $88,000 a year along by contracting with Athens Services. There should be additional savings from equipment and maintenance and costs. The projected savings for contracting out jail services are estimated to be about $600,000 annually, once the contractor is fully up and running the jail.

Opponents of the outsourcing of jail services have raised concerns that the savings projected by the contractor, G4S Secure Solutions, are exaggerated and unrealistic.

Wendy Leece
Councilwoman Wendy Leece - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

Councilwoman Wendy Leece, expressed her objections to the contracting out proposals:

“With the injunction still outstanding and the lawsuit yet to be resolved… I just don’t even think we should be discussing this,” Leece said. “I’m not in a hurry to support this,” she said. “I don’t think that the savings is remarkable to switch from our own trained employees.”

The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defend its decision to issue blanket layoff notices to almost half their workforce. The estimated savings hardly seem to justify the costs in staff morale, employee jobs, and legal costs.

Costa Mesa City Employees Association spokesperson Jennifer Muir told the Orange County Register:

“It has been a brutal 14 months for the employees of Costa Mesa. They’ve received pink slip after pink slip, after pink slip, after pink slip so the City Council could advance their political agenda and that’s disgusting. Not only has the court told them they can’t do this, they have failed to present an accurate picture and a complete picture to residents about what the consequences of handing over control of public services to private corporations could be.”

The City Council decided to pull animal control, building inspection and video productions off the table as well and rescinded layoff notices for the affected employees after a staff analysis showed these services are better provided in house. The council decided to rescind the 87 layoff notices issued in March 2011 to the city’s Fire Department.

More contracting out proposals are expected to come before the council in the coming months. An Appeals Court hearing, on the city challenge to a Superior Court injunction preventing outsourcing until the lawsuit is resolved, is scheduled for May 23rd.


  1. I was there until the bitter end. It was a bizarre night/morning. Where else would you find a mayor calling for a short break after midnight before they move forward?!

    One interesting sidebar that went virtually unnoticed – Finance and IT Director Bobby Young has presented the council with a NEW Preliminary Budget. This one, at the DEMAND of Jim Righeimer, now includes a $13.1 million deficit instead of $200,000 in the budget he presented last week. Thursday, May 17th, we will see just how many jobs a pothole is worth as Righeimer and his buddies trade employees for alley repair.

  2. Based on the savings that they have calculated this is a good thing. Where one job is lost another is created. They are just trying to control cost and if that is what they are really doing then right on. The reality in the world today is you have to stay competitive and sweetheart union deals need to transition in order to be competitive.

    Unfortunately they are politicians so more than likely someones brother in law is going to make out here.

    If the savings end up being false then remember them at election time.

    • Mike–I would tend to agree if it was anyone other than this Council. I’m a performance auditor for another city and I can tell you its not so easy to compare the full costs of contracting to in-house services. Will there be any changes in the service levels? What’s the cost of contract administration? What will the contractor charge extra for that city forces do at no extra cost? If the object and result is to save taxpayers money or increase productivity, great. But if the object is to score political points, everyone loses.

    • not all jobs are created equal… a part time job with no benefits given to a person who had a full time job with benefits only costs all taxpayers more in the end. Living wages… but in Jim Righeimer’s kingdom only overweight pompous pricks deserve to make a decent living

  3. After the out sourcing is done and the government employees are gone and before the cost savings can be booked. The question of the sunk costs need to ne addressed, the balance due on the unfunded pensions that still needs to be paid, now and years into the future.

  4. Athens Services, the company picked to outsource the Street sweeping is financed by the State. So all you CM Tax Tea Patriots …..WAKE UP!

    When the State was strapped with a $26 BILLION dollar deficit from 2008-2010, the California Pollution Finance Control Authority gave them $60 million dollars. This “private”,”family owned” company ,with 10’s of millions of taxpayer funded debt, and it’s politically connected lobbyists then went out to procure public contracts. Competing and underbidding while being financed by CA taxpayers.

    What is the biggest advantage about these guys? They funnel lots of money into local council elections. Since the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association is operating as a non-profit corporation, no disclosure of campaign contributions are necessary. Using the abuses under the cover of the “citizens united”ruling they can take and funnel as much dirty campaign money as they want. It’s the new normal for how Costa Mesa will be bought and paid for for years to come…..without the citizens knowing any of the back room deals.

  5. Anyone doing any proofing?

    …contractor us fully up… (is)

    …defend it’s decision… (its)

  6. The short answer to your question is no. We are all volunteers and are responsible for our own proofreading and spell checking. Occasionally we miss a few things. We’ll get these errors corrected as soon as we can. Thanks for pointing them out.

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