Yes on Auburn as a charter city

Our View
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It is our local representatives who residents directly elect into or out of office. It is our local representatives who residents can face at local meetings. It?s our local city hall where they can lodge complaints or suggestions and where those complaints and suggestions will be heard. When it comes down to it, residents and their leaders should have more control over the laws that govern them. That?s why it?s important for voters inside Auburn?s city limits to vote yes on Measure A, which allows the city to become a charter city, to promote and put local control into action. Currently, Auburn is a general law city. Under that designation, the city abides by the state Legislature and the laws it passes. As a charter city, Auburn would be able to have control of municipal matters and reject state mandates that conflict with those. Auburn?s charter is written with Auburn in mind. It promotes local business and volunteers, and addresses potential city council compensation abuse. It limits taxing authority to what is already allowed by general law and maintains the current election system. Perhaps one of the best parts of the charter is the section that requires the city to enact a performance-based management and budget. A performance-based budget will show comparison as to how money in specific departments was spent and what it was spent on. The budget will be available to residents and online and show current budget information about how taxes and fees are spent. A needed step to prove transparency and prudent spending as the city gains more control. Among the most discussed portions of the charter are the prevailing wage exemption and protection for volunteers. In Section 303 of the charter, it allows the city to opt out of paying the state-set prevailing wage for public projects unless the wage is required by federal or state law, the city council does not consider the project a municipal affair or the council approves paying the prevailing wage. To coincide with this exemption, the city charter allows the city to establish an ordinance of specified and limited bid advantage to locally-based companies. There is a major caveat to the prevailing wage exemption. The matter is still being decided in a State Supreme Court decision. Depending on how the court rules, charter cities may not be able to exempt themselves from prevailing wage. However, if that does become the case, the charter still has other strong merits and allows the city to have control over municipal ordinances and the way it?s governed to make a charter worthwhile. Currently volunteers can work on construction projects but that is only under an exemption to California labor code 1720.4 that is set to expire Jan. 1, 2017. If it expires and is not renewed, then the city would have to pay for the work. As a charter, the city could be protected whether or not the exemption is extended. The state Legislature often passes laws, fees, etc. that Auburn residents simply have to accept. One recent cost that comes to mind is the $150 yearly fee recently imposed by Cal Fire to pay for wildfire protection. Rural residents in Auburn are among those who have to pay it and there is no guarantee they?ll see the money spent locally. The fee applies to rural residents and not those within city limits. However, the point being is the state already imposes fees, so arguments that the charter will open the city up to more fees and penalties is not a compelling reason not to have one. California?s state government has a broken system that is rife with bureaucracy and legislators who cannot seem to balance a budget. Auburn residents have much easier access and engagement in their community and should be allowed to make policies and rules that fit their community. Auburn?s elected leaders are more accessible and can be held much more accountable. Local businesses, given the chance to bid and have priority on public projects, will have their neighbors to answer to if the project goes awry. The charter calls for an engaged, watchful citizenry. If Measure A is to truly work, it needs support from the start with an overwhelming majority vote. It?s a measure worth supporting now and in the future.