Arroyo Grande voters to decide on charter city proposal in November

Arroyo Grande voters will decide in November whether they want their community to become a charter city.

Following a series of meetings and public hearings, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

City officials said that changing from a general law to a charter city would give them more local control and enable them to draft their own rules on election procedures, bidding for contracts, and purchasing goods, property or services.

Arroyo Grande’s draft charter would not provide the city council any ability to raise its own pay or raise taxes beyond what it can already do as a general law city.

“This gives the city the ability to accept donations of labor and materials, which we don’t have right now,” Councilman Joe Costello said Tuesday. “It allows us to use our own employees to do some of these (public works) jobs, which we can’t do right now. We would have the ability to do some things that do give us more flexibility.”

However, the measure will face significant opposition from labor union groups, who object to one portion of the proposed charter that allows the city to set guidelines for when it could waive prevailing wage requirements on projects.

Supporters say that prevailing wage ensures that workers are properly trained, ensures good workmanship and prevents cost overruns.

Last year, however, state lawmakers approved a bill that eliminated state funding of any kind for charter cities that make use of a prevailing wage exemption.

Several California charter cities have challenged the law’s constitutionality, but local officials believe it could be several years before a final ruling is reached.