For Immediate Release
CA Supreme Court Rules in Favor of City of Vista
|Phone:||760.726.1340 ext. 1438|
|Release Date:||July 02, 2012|
Today, the Supreme Court of California ruled in favor (5-2) of the City of Vista in State Building & Construction Trades Council v City of Vista, culminating a three-year legal battle. In ruling in favor of the city of Vista, the State Supreme Court upheld the authority of charter cities to exercise control over their “municipal affairs,” including whether a charter city should pay prevailing wages on contracts funded with local revenues.
“While we have been confident throughout this petition that the Supreme Court of California would uphold the constitution of the state of California and the unique powers that it confers on local citizens who adopt charters,” said Vista City Attorney Darold Pieper, “we are more than pleased with today’s ruling, as it acknowledges Vista’s right to exercise prudent fiscal controls resulting from its charter status.”
The City of Vista received a complaint filed against them by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California AFL-CIO in 2009. It sought to require the City to comply with the State’s prevailing wage law for public projects, a request that contradicted the will of the residents of Vista, who voted by an affirmative 67 percent to become a charter city in 2007. Historically, charter cities have enjoyed significant control over municipal affairs, including contracting involving local funds. Essentially, the plaintiffs had hoped to convince the courts to reverse their prior decisions by denying charter cities a choice to pay or not to pay prevailing wages on public projects relying on local funds.
“In 2009, the City of Vista was shocked that the plaintiffs would attempt to thwart our residents’ will expressed at the ballot box through a democratic election in June, 2007,” continued City Attorney Darold Pieper. “Since then, we have moved forward to defend the decision of our citizens all the way to the Supreme Court of California in order to preserve the principle of local control for them and the other citizens of California.”
“If the court ruling had been in favor of the plaintiff,” said Mayor Judy Ritter, “it would have required the taxpayers of even the poorest charter city in the state to pay the highest possible wages to build their municipal facilities.” An adverse ruling would have limited the means of charter cities, such as the city of Vista, to efficiently deliver to its citizens and businesses a range of needed public safety, park, and other facilities.
In California, prevailing wages are effectively union wages. They are not the wages paid on most private construction projects throughout the state or even an average of those wages and union wages. They are also accompanied by significant overhead expenses to the contractors to have to work under the prevailing wage system. Union contractors can still bid on city projects; however, the City has the right to look at the cost of what it will take to get the job done and award the bid based on that information.
The City of Vista became a Charter City in 2007 for the principal reason of gaining more local control. Becoming a charter city is the best way to gain the maximum amount of local control for a city in the state of California.