Last time we discussed the California budget crisis, we focused on education. But education is not the only sector being affected by continuing efforts to balance state and city budgets. In fact, this time, schools are safe from funding slashes, while one Orange County city voted to make cuts to the police force.
In a 4-1 vote on Wednesday, the Costa Mesa city council voted to on a budget that included some $1.2 million in reduced spending, including cuts to the local police department.
So incensed was Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley over how the cuts would affect the police department, that he decided to step down. According to an Orange County Register blog, Staveley's resignation was a result of mounting frustration, and the reorganization of the police force was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
One council member, Jim Righeimer, was quoted in the saying the money saved on police services will be used to deal with the cities perceived homelessness problem. "We're going to have to figure out some kind of housing situation and that's going to cost money," he said.
However, according to Steve Smith, a former member of Costa Mesa's Homeless Task Force, the homeless population is significantly lower than the national average, with 25 percent of them being veterans. He added that the idea that there is a homelessness crisis in Costa Mesa is "not in line with reality."
The truth is that Costa Mesa is a very safe city and disputed cuts are only 3.5 percent of the total police force budget -- which amounts to a loss of 4 or 5 officers. While some argue that continued cuts to the police budget could mean an increase in crime, Costa Mesa's CEO Tom Hatch released a statement assuring residents that the city will remain safe.
What do you think about the new balanced budget passed by Costa Mesa's city council? Do you agree the city is safe enough to manage the loss of a handful of police officers?