Arroyo Grande City Council eyes charter city proposal this week

The Arroyo Grande City Council will once again discuss whether to move forward on becoming a charter city.

When it meets Tuesday, the council will hold a public hearing on the issue, reviewing recommendations from a City Charter Advisory Committee. The council may decide whether to make any changes on the proposed charter and direct the city staff to move ahead with the process to place a measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The measure would change Arroyo Grande from a general law city to a charter city — a move that city officials say would give them more local control and allow them to draft their own rules on election procedures, bidding for contracts, and purchasing goods, property or services.

A debate over prevailing wage could become a central issue with the charter city concept, as it has in neighboring Grover Beach. That city tried unsuccessfully to pass a charter measure and is mulling a repeat attempt. Grover Beach’s failed measure included an exemption from paying the prevailing wage to workers on construction projects when using only locally-generated dollars.

State law defines the prevailing wage as the hourly rate within the local labor market that most workers in a particular trade are paid. The law ensures that contractors don’t pay their workers less in order to underbid competitors on public projects.

The prevailing wage issue, however, has been further complicated by Senate Bill 7, signed into law Oct. 13. The law prohibits a charter city from using state funding for construction projects if the city’s charter allows contractors to skirt state prevailing wage laws.

The law could face legal challenges. If it stands, however, Arroyo Grande’s proposed prevailing wage exemption would become invalid, according to a memorandum written in October by City Manager Steve Adams.

The council will take public comment Tuesday and decide whether to change any language in the proposed charter. A final vote on whether to place a measure on the November ballot is not expected until June, to give the city time for public education efforts, City Clerk Kelly Wetmore said.

The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 215 E. Branch St.