Barred by the courts from slashing its payroll by outsourcing city jobs to private companies, Costa Mesa is now exploring forming partnerships with neighboring cities to share municipal services.
City officials said they are looking into sharing such things as police SWAT teams, emergency dispatch operations and animal control.
Costa Mesa has become a flash point in California in the debate over government finances for its plan to reduce expenses and pension costs by cutting more than 200 workers, a drastic proposal that has caught the attention of political and labor interests throughout the state.
"The idea of sharing municipal services with our neighboring cities has been talked about for years, but with the recent fiscal challenges, it has been given added urgency," said city spokesman William Lobdell.
In response to a lawsuit by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn., an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the city could outsource its services only to other public agencies — at least until the case is heard.
The lawsuit claims that state code prohibits the city from outsourcing a number of its workers' jobs to private companies.
Costa Mesa will continue its work with Management Partners Inc., the consultants brought in earlier this year to assist in restructuring the city's Police Department.
Management Partners will examine the potential effects of the cities sharing SWAT, jail, animal control and dispatch services, along with lifeguard services for the beach cities. The study is expected to last five months.