Charter city proposal falls flat |

Charter city proposal falls flat

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Boat tours and the cable company are likely to remain the only charters in South Lake Tahoe.

On Tuesday, the possibility of becoming a charter city gained little traction from city council members, who may take another look at the pros and cons of the idea in six months.

“Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state,” according to the League of California Cities.

South Lake Tahoe is currently a general law city. Becoming a charter city could require majority approval from voters.

Having a paid, full-time mayor and changing public bidding requirements are two ways the city could change by adopting a charter.

The possibility attracted significant opposition from members of the local carpenters union, who said becoming a charter city is often used as an avenue to eliminate prevailing wage.

Prevailing wage is a basic hourly rate paid on public works projects to ensure the ability to get contracts for the projects is not based on paying lower wage rates than a competitor, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Changing bidding requirements under a charter could save the city an undetermined amount of money.

But union member Gordon Gerhardt said he was scared at the possibility because it is already hard enough to survive in the city as it is.

If prevailing wage were eliminated under a charter, making a living would get even more difficult, Gerhardt said.

Councilwoman Claire Fortier said she does not necessarily support adopting a charter, but the concept deserves a closer look. The council should re-examine becoming a charter city in six months, Fortier said.

“I do think this requires more exploration, rather than just passing it off,” Fortier said.

Mayor Hal Cole said he wasn’t convinced exploring the adoption of a charter was worth city staff time, especially with the long list of issues facing the city.

Councilman Tom Davis agreed. He said he favors a more detailed examination of a charter’s advantages and disadvantages, but also said city staff doesn’t really have time to explore becoming a charter city.

“We may not even want to bring it back in six months,” Davis said.

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