What others are saying about John Moorlach.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
The city of Costa Mesa needs to get its fiscal house in order. From the 2016-17 fiscal year through the 2019-20 fiscal year, the last year studied, the state auditor flagged the city as experiencing greater financial problems.
According to the auditor’s rankings of risks to fiscal health, where a ranking of No. 1 is the worst city, Costa Mesa went from 137 in 2016-17 to 52nd in 2019-20. The key threats to Costa Mesa’s financial health are the city’s high pension obligations, relatively low level of pension funding and high pension costs.
In 2019-20, the auditor noted that Costa Mesa’s annual pension spending was roughly 18% of government-wide revenues. By contrast, nearby Santa Ana spent 12% on pensions, Fountain Valley 9% and Irvine 8%. In the event of a significant economic downturn, pension obligations will demand even more public funding to keep them funded.
Meanwhile, high pension spending in the first place means city residents are getting fewer services than they might otherwise receive because City Hall has to spend so much on its pension debt.
Getting ahold of this, of course, requires leaders who can get these problems under control while also focusing on the core functions of City Hall.
If there’s anyone in Orange County politics willing to speak hard truths about government finances, it’s former state Sen. John Moorlach.
Moorlach’s priorities are straightforward: focus on the city’s balance sheet and work to put the city on a more sustainable fiscal trajectory, while tackling homelessness and promoting public safety.
Moorlach vows to draw upon his extensive experience as a state senator, county supervisors, county treasurer and, of course, as an accountant to ask tough questions and steer the city in a better financial direction.
Moorlach vows to accept no support from public employee unions so that he can be free from conflicts of interest in his work on behalf of the taxpaying public.
Incumbent Mayor John Stephens, we must note, is a sensible and thoughtful leader of the city. His support for greater investments in mental health services and making it easier for developers to build needed housing have been laudable.
However, we believe the city could benefit immensely from Moorlach’s fiscal expertise.