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Arroyo Grande Threatening Charter City Ballot Measure to Get Rid of the Prevailing Wage

The City of Arroyo Grande, California is look into some “innovative” ideas to improve their economic woes. Unfortunately, for workers in the area many of these “new” ideas are taken straight from the conservative lobbyist playbook and actually look to make permanent changes that will hurt the citizens of the Southern California town. Among those proposed changes is to become a “charter city.” This would allow Arroyo Grande to bypass California state law in certain cases, including with respect to the prevailing wage.

Prevailing wage is being framed as something that hurts business instead of something that protects workers.

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, becoming a charter city is just one of the many conservative proposals being discussed in the name of savings:

The Arroyo Grande City Council considered a slew of ideas this week, including becoming a charter city and dipping into sales tax funds normally earmarked for local projects in order to reduce an estimated $900,000 shortfall in next fiscal year’s budget.

City employees, who last year agreed to a combination of furlough days and increased pension costs to save the city about $410,000, may be asked to make up the difference if some of the ideas don’t bridge the gap.

City officials had anticipated a $656,000 shortfall for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts July 1st.

In the past few years, the city’s revenues have declined while its medical and pensions costs for employees grew, according to City Manager Steve Adams.

To cut costs, city officials restructured city departments, eliminated 18 full- and part-time jobs through layoffs and an early retirement programs, and negotiated with employee unions to make changes to medical and retirement plans.

The council also requested more information on one of Adams’ proposals — to put a ballot measure before voters in November to change Arroyo Grande from a general-law city to a charter city.

Currently, San Luis Obispo is the only charter city in the county, which allows it to establish its own policies regarding purely municipal affairs.

General-law cities are governed under California’s Local Government Code.

One of Arroyo Grande’s primary objectives is to exempt the city from paying prevailing wages per state law on public works projects over $1,000.

Doing so could save the city $200,000 a year, Adams said.

If this number is true, that $200,000 a year will be saved by eliminating the prevailing wage, it should only be stated as fact with a caveat: it will save the city $200,000 a year by taking $200,000 out of working peoples’ pockets.

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune,, the city council also discussed the following topics at their last meeting:

Other cost-saving ideas discussed Tuesday include: • Requesting that the Five Cities Fire Authority, the joint fire-protection agency with Grover Beach and Oceano, negotiate with its union to make changes to pension plans to save $50,000.

• Sending Grover Beach a proposal to consolidate its public safety dispatch services or its police department with Arroyo Grande. Officials estimate a joint dispatch could save Arroyo Grande up to $70,000 a year and a combined police department could save about $400,000.
• Stop funding increases to employee medical insurance and seek additional savings by reducing employee compensation.
• Use $250,000 in local sales tax funds and $200,000 in reserve funds to cover a portion of the shortfall.


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