South Lake Tahoe City Council to discuss possibility of becoming charter city
City Council is slated to discuss the possibility of becoming a charter city — a form of local government that could grant the city greater local control.
The consideration will come before council at its June 4 meeting. Exploring the possibility of becoming a charter city was noted as a potential revenue generating measure, which itself was identified as a top priority by council earlier this year.
Councilor Cody Bass previously requested an informational report on charter cities be included on a future council agenda.
As noted in a staff report, South Lake Tahoe has been a general law city since officially becoming a city in 1965. The move toward incorporating as a city was intended to provide for more local control over police, fire, snow removal and other services.
While incorporation does allow for more local control, the type of incorporation can limit the breadth of that local control.
General law cities are bound by the state of California’s general law, while charter cities have supreme authority over municipal affairs, according to the League of California Cities.
Issues that are considered “municipal affairs” are determined either by the state constitution or by the courts, according to the city staff memo. Included under municipal affairs are: regulation and government of city police force; form of city government; city elections; officers and employees; public works contracting; payment of prevailing wage; taxes; and land use and planning.
“The trend over the last decade has been an expansion of areas defined as matters of statewide concern, and a corresponding contraction of areas defined as municipal affairs,” states the city memo. “Thus, there are not as many advantages to being a charter city as there used to be.”
The extent of the city’s authority is determined by the charter, which can be drafted using one of three different methods: a 15-member charter commission elected by voters; a charter committee appointed by City Council; or council itself.
Once a charter is drafted, it must be approved by voters. Depending on whether council wants to pursue the charter city model and, if so, how it chooses to draft a charter, voters could be weighing in as soon as the 2020 elections.
Council’s meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, in council chambers at 1901 Airport Road.