On July 16, the majority of the Grover Beach City Council voted to place Measure I-12 on the November ballot. If approved by the voters, this measure would change the city from a “general law city” to a “charter city.”
In the event voters approve the measure, the charter would become the city’s constitution. In preparation for the election, it is important that citizens have an understanding of the ballot measure and what it means for Grover Beach.
In California, there are two forms of municipal government authorized by the laws of the state of California: a general law city and a charter city. A general law city operates under the general powers granted by the statutory laws of the state of California. In the case of a general law city, state law serves as the city’s constitution .
As a charter city, the city would operate under the authority of a local charter approved by the voters. Once approved by the voters, the charter becomes the constitution of the city. A charter gives the city greater control over municipal affairs. Here are examples: local bidding and purchasing, municipal elections, public improvement financing, and land-use decisions.
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The City Council developed the charter over four months, involving three public hearings. The council was careful to include provisions that would increase the city’s separation from the state, while at the same time giving the city more control over its own activities.
Here are a few of the key provisions of the charter: It would prohibit the state from taking locally generated revenue. At the same time, it would limit the state’s ability to require the city to implement state programs without reimbursement. The charter enables the city to establish its own bidding and purchasing procedures and provides the city the ability to exempt itself from prevailing wage requirements for cityfunded projects that are not of statewide concern. The local charter supports and encourages economic development, and supports local businesses and the use of volunteers for city projects.
It is also important to understand the provisions of local government the charter does not change: It does not change the elected officers of the city, the terms of office or the term limits already in place. It does not change the compensation limits for elected officials as found in state law. It does not provide the council with new authority or change current taxing authority or rules.
If the charter is approved, the City Council will establish its own rules and requirements for bidding and purchasing, following the solicitation of public comments to ensure the process and procedures are equitable. As noted, the exemption from the prevailing wage requirement will only apply to projects with solely local funding sources. It will not apply to projects that are funded with state or federal funds or projects that are of statewide concern.
Passage of the charter will provide the city greater separation from state authority and the opportunity to have greater control over the expenditure of locally generated funds.
The ability to set the city’s own bidding procedures and the ability to exempt local projects from prevailing wage requirements will save the city money.
Additionally, projects will be completed in a more timely and costeffective manner. Ultimately, uses of any savings generated through the implementation of the charter will be a City Council decision. It is likely that additional projects will be completed and the city’s essential services, including police and fire protection, as well as recreation and park services, will be sustained.
It is also important to note that, once approved, the charter can only be changed by a vote of the people.
Robert Perrault is the city manager for Grover Beach.