Charter could give Grover Beach more local control

clambert@thetribunenews.comOctober 13, 2012 

Grover Beach City Hall

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Grover Beach voters in November will consider a ballot measure that some supporters hope will give their city more control over local affairs and protect it from state money grabs.

The City Council earlier this year voted to ask voters whether they agree to change the city from a general law to a charter city. If successful, Grover Beach would join the 121 other cities in California, including San Luis Obispo, that have already done so.

With its own charter, Grover Beach leaders could draft their own rules on election procedures, bidding for contracts and rules for use of city property. Some opponents, however, have focused on one aspect of the charter: the city’s exemption from paying the prevailing wage to workers on construction projects when using only locally generated dollars.

Opponents argue that doing so could shortchange workers by reducing their pay. But supporters, including some council candidates, say the measure would help the city stretch its money and help it complete more projects.

In July, when the council voted 3-2 to place the measure on the November ballot, nearly a dozen union members and local residents spoke in support of prevailing wage requirements, while two people spoke in support of the charter and the flexibility it gives the city.

City Manager Bob Perrault said on average, about 80 percent of the city’s capital improvement projects involve state or federal funds and would still require the city to pay prevailing wage.

But because market labor rates tend to be considerably lower than the prevailing wage rate, the city could save money on projects it pays for with strictly local funds. Prevailing wage ensures workers on construction projects are paid a wage comparable to the local standards not beholden to the market.

Mayor John Shoals and Councilwoman Phyllis Molnar voted against putting the measure on the ballot.

For more information about the charter measure, go to www.grover.org/index.aspx?NID=150.

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