I looked at this once in 2007, and again in 2010, so in celebration of May Day and International Workers’ Day 2012, I am going to celebrate the People’s Republic of Newport Beach city employees and the so-called republican (small r) City Council.
So, let me first reiterate my discontent for a statement by former Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau, stating that they were going to build a new city hall (back when it was still going to be on the Balboa Peninsula) to accommodate “future employee growth.”
Future Employee Growth. Makes my head explode.
So is there any doubt in your mind that our new, $100-million to $150-million White Elephant/Taj Mahal/City Hall/Civic Center will be built to also accommodate future employee growth?
Under the prior city manager’s regime, Newport Beach got lots and lots of employees, to the point where trailers were put up on the lawn to fit them all in.
And our council sat back and let it happen because times were good. So good that city employees were paid extremely well and earned amazing pensions and benefits. So good that the pension liability has grown large enough to choke multiple horses.
Anyway, in consecutive years, where our city had to cut back millions of dollars to balance the budget, I’m going to spew out the numbers which took me hours to gather.
According to the 2011-12 city budget, Newport Beach has 886.27 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees.
FTE? OK, if you take two, 20-hour a week employees, that’s the equivalent to one full-time employee.
That’s with fire, police, lifeguards, trash people, etc.
With an estimated population of 85,186 folks, Newport has:
96.12 residents per city employee.
10.40 city employees per 1,000 residents.
Does that seem like a lot? Newport Beachians expect more than residents of other cities, of course. But under current City Manager Dave Kiff’s regime, these numbers are actually better than they were before he took to top spot in September 2009.
In the 2009-10 city budget, Newport Beach had:
87.89 residents per city employee,
11.38 city employees per 1,000 residents
Our Socialist, er Democratic-led, neighbors in Irvine, with their 219,156 residents, have:
209.42 residents per city employee.
4.78 city employees per 1,000 residents.
Democrat-led Santa Ana and their 324,528 residents:
214.92 residents per city employee.
4.65 city employees per 1,000 Residents.
Republican (note the Capital R) Costa Mesa and its 109,960 residents:
197.12 residents per city employee.
5.07 city employees per 1,000 residents.
In comparison to those three cities, Newport Beach has double the amount of employees per residents.
But I guess we in Newport Beach expect and receive double the service than our neighbors, right?
But, are we comparing apples to apples?
Irvine doesn’t have beaches, or a harbor, doesn’t have its own fire department, and doesn’t have its own library system.
Santa Ana doesn’t have beaches and is significantly larger than Newport.
Costa Mesa is led by real Republicans, and, oh, they don’t have an oceanfront to contend with either.
So let’s take a look at a larger version of Newport Beach, a city that also has beaches, Police and Fire departments and a library system.
Huntington Beach (led by Republicans) and its 189,992 people:
853 FTEs (Newport has 886.27 FTEs).
222.73 residents per city employee (Newport, 96.12 per).
4.49 city employees per 1,000 residents (Newport, 10.40 per).
For an additional 104,806 residents, the Huntington Beach City Council only needs 33.27 fewer employees to cover its beaches, more tourists and more residents to run more efficiently than the republicans (note the small “r”) of Newport Beach.
Must be because they have a bigger City Hall, right?
Now, to be fair, Kiff has been doing his best Conan the Barbarian impression with his job-cutting monster ax, but no credit goes to our council because since this was the same council (with the exception of Rush Hill) who allowed Bludau to explode the roof off our old City Hall and onto the lawns with trailers.
Kiff can only do so much, and our council needs to stop taking credit for his hard work.
If it wasn’t for Kiff, then status quo would be the rule of the day, and the new white elephant would have trailers to accommodate the new employees.
Love those trailers.
JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). His column runs Sundays on the Daily Pilot Forum page. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.