Costa Mesa pink slips entire fire department
March 24, 2011
As part of a plan to solve a looming pension crisis and budget gap by outsourcing services, Costa Mesa officials handed pink slips to their entire fire department. [NewYorkTimes]
Almost half of the city’s workers were told late last week that, come September, they would probably be out of a job. Disbanded departments include fire, maintenance and street cleaning.
Private ambulance companies will respond to medical emergencies and fire calls will be routed to the Orange County Fire Department.
Pink slips went out to more than 200 of the city’s roughly 450 workers sending many into a panic. After receiving a summons to come pick up his letter, one city worker climbed five stories to the roof of the city hall building and jumped to his death.
The City Council moved quickly to approve the outsourcing and layoff plans as a way to solve a budget gap of as much as $15 million next year and deal with pensions that grow exponentially each year, eating away at the city’s $93 million budget.
“We see the train wreck coming and the only questions are how bad it will be and how quickly we want to try to stop it,” said City Councilman Jim Righeimer, who has led the push for outsourcing and has battled with public employee unions for years to the New York Times. “We have to stop blaming other people and start to solve these problems ourselves. These are hardworking people, but we know we cannot afford to keep paying what we have been.”
City officials expect to cut anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in labor costs.