Charter designation expected to save city millions

OCEANSIDE — At the request of Councilman Gary Felien and with the support of a unanimous Feb. 22 City Council vote, city staff will tally up the savings Oceanside has gained by becoming a charter city. The city is expected to have saved millions of dollars this past year on city building projects after becoming a charter city, which has allowed it to hire non-union contractors who pay workers less than the prevailing wage.“The charter saved $1 million in the first three months,” Felien said. “I anticipated having this nice long list of savings.”

Councilman Jerry Kern said he is also expecting to see big savings due to the charter allowance to hire nonunion contractors.

“It opens the market up to more people bidding,” Kern said.

City savings will be tallied, broken into savings categories, and reported to City Council within 30 days.

Felien said he wants the savings officially tallied so there is no longer a public debate on whether the charter is saving the city money.

Some residents cautioned that price reductions due to the downturn of the economy should not be considered monies the charter has saved the city.

“I want to make sure you’re considering costs,” Kyle Krahel Frolander, a former City Council aide and Oceanside resident, said. “The downturn due to recession should be taken out. I want to make sure this is all on board.”

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez also noted that the economy has an influence on project costs and completion.

“Bids are coming in low because of the economy,” Sanchez said. “It’s based on materials. Tons of projects have been approved. None of them are going anywhere.”

Oceanside has OK’d 40 projects that are on hold due to funding and other reasons.

City Council will be looking at other parts of the city charter in a special meeting on Feb. 29. Amendments to the charter will be discussed for possible placement on the June 5 ballot.

Proposed amendments include numbered elected at large council seats, a runoff election for candidates who receive less than 50 percent of votes, and limiting special elections that are held outside of June or November to optional mail-in ballots only.

City Council will also discuss establishing a citizen review committee, which will make independent recommendations on city charter changes.

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