NEWS RELEASE – Oceanside City Council Member Jerry Kern
For Release July 2, 2012
Charter Cities Exempt From Prevailing Wages
Council Member Kern Declares Victory for the Taxpayers
Oceanside City Council Member Jerry Kern praised the California Supreme Court decision this morning in City of Vista v. State Building and Construction Trades Council.
The Court agreed with the City of Vista (a Charter City) that prevailing wage decisions on municipal projects are “municipal affairs” governed by local ordinances.
The Court also reaffirmed that under our state Constitution, the ordinances of charter cities supersede state law with respect to this type of “municipal affair” and this state law cannot be used to invade Vista’s constitutionally guaranteed autonomy as a charter city.
Council Member Kern has been a big supporter of Charter Cities and has been asked to speak before the cities of: Costa Mesa, El Cajon, Escondido, and Bakersfield.
Currently of the 482 cities in California, there are 120 Charter Cities and 362 General Law cities. Kern predicted that “a result of this Court decision would be several General Law cities lining up to seek Charter City status to get out from under the thumb of Sacramento, and to save their taxpayers money.”
The state legislature, big labor and their allies have been trying to scare local governments from seeking Charter City status, by using the previously pending Vista court decision and threats of potential law suites. “Today, that boogie-man no longer exists,” said Kern.
The Court reaffirmed as far as “municipal affairs” are concerned, “charter cities are supreme and beyond the reach of legislative enactment.”
What this means for the taxpayers of Oceanside
Council Member Kern said, “City taxpayers are the big winners in this case. Oceanside City Charter allows our City to exempt itself from state prevailing wage rates on municipal construction projects. Today’s ruling confirms our authority, under the California Constitution, to exercise this type of local control to save taxpayers money.” Kern went on to say, “this Court decision has provided relief to local government and takes some power away from the Sacramento politicians who have driven the California economy into the ground. We will continue to look at ways of fiscally reforming our city government to save taxpayers money. Sacramento should be following our lead instead of impeding our progress.”
Studies show that these state mandated wage rates increase costs and decrease efficiencies. A 2005 California study showed prevailing wage rates can add 9 – 37% to the costs of construction (http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj30n1/cj30n1-7.pdf at page 142).
“There is no doubt, that this case is a win for taxpayers, and a loss for the State Construction Unions and their allies in the state legislature,” Kern said.
“My job is to protect the tax dollars of the City of Oceanside, not to subsidize big Labor Unions or their political pals,” said Kern. “I want to encourage all of my colleagues on the city council to use this decision as a measure to stand-up for the taxpayers of Oceanside and to support our business community,” Kern said.