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Cities brace for possible loss of state funds

OCEANSIDE — City Council took measures to carefully word its approval of a landscaping bid on May 28, to specify that the contractor hired agrees to pay workers prevailing wage.

The city is using extra caution on its semantics after SB-7 was passed, which will penalize cities for hiring a contractor who pays below prevailing wage beginning in January 2015. Penalties will include loss of state funding, even if funding is requested for a different project.

Oceanside passed a city charter in 2010, which allows the city to accept bids in which contractors pay below prevailing wage. The city approved this ordinance as a cost-saving measure when state funds are not involved in a project.

Oceanside City Attorney John Mullen said Oceanside is protesting the recently passed bill’s stipulation that state funds can be withheld from all public works projects if a city accepts one bid that pays workers below prevailing wage.

The city is filing a lawsuit, and joining the League of California Cities in its lawsuit against the state. Other North County cities that have a charter or ordinance that allows them to accept bids from contractors that pay below prevailing wage have also joined in the lawsuit.

Litigation is still pending.

In the meantime, caution in contract wording is being used.

“We switched to a charter city basically over prevailing wage,” Mayor Jim Wood said. Wood voted with Councilwoman Esther Sanchez against becoming a charter city in 2010.

“Now we’re facing paying prevailing wage, or a chance of losing any and all state funding.”

Oceanside has previously approved a handful of bids in which contractors pay below prevailing wage. The decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.

“The passage of the bill brings some uncertainty,” City Manager Steve Jepsen said. “The intent of the bill is that cities (public works projects) are required to pay prevailing wage.

“Very few cities are impacted by SB-7, us being one.”

The landscaping contract will be completed in 2014, and has a one-year option for 2015. It also happens that all bidders for the project pay prevailing wage or higher. In this case prevailing wage was not a consideration in choosing the contractor.

Nonetheless, City Council wanted to ensure approval is worded carefully and does not jeopardize state funding.

 

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1 comment

OsidePride June 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

Oceanside’s Charter is a JOKE. It was written, NOT by the City Attorney, NOT with public input, but by a LOBBYIST FOR THE BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION! Of course, they want to pay below prevailing wage! The Council Majority also eliminated /reduced requirements for notices of building projects, in-lieu fees or requirements for more affordable housing. Instead, zoning is being changed from industrial to more housing when Oceanside is already upside-down on jobs to homes ratio. Kern promised JOBS on the new hotel projects, but rather than hire Oceanside workers, those “jobs” went to workers brought in from Arizona so builders could pay BELOW prevailing wage! Their wages went back to Arizona’s economy, NOT Oceanside’s. DUMP KERN & FELIEN IN 2014!

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