By Emily Foxhall
8:08 PM PST, January 21, 2014
West Newport could become home to the Newport Beach Police Department's new headquarters, Mayor Rush Hill told the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
But no specific sites are under consideration, he explained, as the city begins to examine alternatives to the current location on the outskirts of Newport Center.
West Newport requires a stronger police presence and lacks community centers, such as those found in other parts of the city, Hill explained following his remarks to a group of about 50 gathered for the chamber's networking lunch at Five Crowns restaurant.
The matter of the new department building must be brought to the City Council before any decision is made, City Manager Dave Kiff said in an email.
Fire stations are also being replaced and new parks are being built, all a result of a city in "very good financial shape," Hill said.
Newport Beach has always ended its fiscal year with a balanced budget. Even during the recession, the city has never needed to dip into its reserves, Hill told audience members.
In fact, the city has increased reserves with unexpected income, bringing the amount within the range of $100 million.
"You have to watch your budgets; you have to control your expenses," he said of Newport Beach's financial management success. "But none of that works unless you have the right team."
Sparkling statistics aside, the hefty benefits packages for employees pose a threat to the city's finances, requiring that management strike a balance between mitigating costs and continuing to encourage workers, he said.
This tightrope walk is exemplified by recent discussions about the possible outsourcing of Corona del Mar lifeguard services, "the newest noncontroversial item," Hill said jokingly.
Whether the city chooses to privatize that service will be based on whether proposals offer economic merit and an equal or better service quality.
So far, Hill went on, rumor has it that the city has not been impressed with the options.
The mayor plans to outline his three strategic moves for the upcoming year during the annual Mayor's Dinner hosted by Speak Up Newport on Feb. 7.