Wednesday, May 15, 2013
By JAMES R. RIFFEL
City News Service
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council's Rules and Economic Development Committee today directed staff to develop an ordinance based on a proposal by Mayor Bob Filner to expand the city's prevailing wage requirements on municipal public works projects.
The city currently requires contractors to pay a prevailing wage to employees on many projects valued at more than $10 million. The mayor wants to apply the prevailing wage provision to all projects.
``I'm glad we're moving forward on this,'' Filner told City News Service. ``I think it helps us give people a livable wage here in San Diego and puts everybody on an equal playing field, and shows a commitment to middle-class jobs.''
In a memo to council members, the mayor said requiring that contractors pay employees a prevailing wage would improve construction careers; stimulate marketplace competition; ensure that contractors compete on a level playing field; provide better value for taxpayers by making sure projects are built by skilled workers; and minimize city expenditures caused by poor workmanship.
The proposal would not affect projects where it is already required that state or federal prevailing wages be paid, and would not apply to private projects, according to the mayor.
The committee voted unanimously to bring the ordinance back before the committee on June 19, with an eye on presenting it to the full City Council the following week. The panel also asked for accompanying reports from the mayor, city attorney and independent budget analyst.
``The city of San Diego needs to be a leader in promoting the types of policies that are good for our residents and our economy,'' committee Chairwoman Sherri Lightner said. ``Paying the prevailing wage on city construction projects does just that.''
Councilman Mark Kersey said a city report from a decade ago said paying prevailing wages increases project costs by anywhere from 17-20 percent. He said he would keep in mind other benefits from the proposal when it comes back to the committee, but wants updated data.
California has a prevailing wage law but, as a charter city, San Diego is not subject to its provisions unless a project receives some state funding.
A bill winding its way through the Legislature, however, would prohibit state funding to charter cities that authorize contractors to ignore prevailing wage requirements. The bill is currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee.