By Pamela Wilson
4:16 PM PDT, October 10, 2012
During the last several years, there has been little our city and its residents have been able to rely on. As the economy faltered, incoming revenues were uncertain. Government services have been cut due to a lack of funds.
Yet one fact remains as consistent as ever: Sacramento politicians continue to do what they can to meddle in our city's affairs and impose burdensome laws that cost taxpayer dollars.
It should be Costa Mesa's right to manage our own affairs and make decisions that will benefit our citizens and taxpayers, not the special interests to which the Sacramento politicians are beholden.
Fortunately, by passing Measure V, Costa Mesa voters can once again regain control over local affairs and protect taxpayer dollars.
Currently, Costa Mesa is a general law city. Measure V will allow our city to become a charter city. Charter cities have an increased ability to customize their operations to meet the needs of the city and its residents. General law cities, on the other hand, are dependent on the Legislature when it comes to the decisions they can make.
The way a charter works is simple. A charter is essentially a local constitution that will allow us to establish a system of government that exempts our city from many of the burdensome and costly mandates that Sacramento imposes. It also contains other provisions aimed at protecting taxpayers.
Measure V will save taxpayer dollars in a few ways. To begin with, the charter would give our city greater flexibility when it comes to contracting and purchasing for many of the projects and items our city needs. The process required by the state can be costly, time consuming and often causes delays.
In addition, general law cities are required to pay prevailing wages on public projects, which are typically much higher than industry standard wages. Typical estimates say prevailing wage requirements often increase the cost of labor by 20% to 40%.
If approved by voters, Measure V will potentially save our city millions of dollars in public works projects in the future.
While the charter does expand our city's ability to manage its own affairs, it does not expand the ability of the city to raise or impose new taxes, and there is nothing in the charter that will cost the city money.
In fact, Costa Mesa would still retain the protections required by Proposition 218, which guarantees that residents have the right to vote on tax increases.
Beyond these savings, Measure V imposes additional taxpayer protections by requiring that any increase in retirement benefits for city employees require approval by voters. This provision will soften the long-term burden that city employee compensation places on our budget. However, cost of living adjustments for city employees will continue without requiring voter approval.
Finally, Measure V takes a step toward reining in special interest influence over our city affairs, which further transfers power back to voters. Measure V would prohibit the city from automatically deducting portions of city employee paychecks to be used for political purposes. This ensures city employees aren't forced to support political causes they don't personally believe in.
As our city's operations continue to grow more sophisticated, Measure V will give Costa Mesa the necessary flexibility over our own local affairs and will ensure taxpayers are protected. Vote Yes on Measure V this November.
PAMELA WILSON lives in Costa Mesa.