City Eschews Prevailing Wages

The City Council voted to exempt Newport beach from a state requirement that compels cities to pay workers prevailing wages.

In an effort to cut costs, Newport Beach city leaders voted this week to eschew state requirements that force municipalities to pay contract workers prevailing wages.

According to a staff report, Newport Beach, a charter city, has the right to exempt itself from state requirements that workers on public projects be paid a prevailing wage. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to exercise the exemption.

However resident Cindy McMackin, who owns a large contracting company, spoke against the move.

"The best scenario happens when you have prevailing wage payers on the job, when you get the best skilled, the best-trained workers who do things right the first time," McMackin said. "It allows you to have cost savings, faster completion, higher safety and higher quality standards."

City Manager Dave Kiff countered that the move could help the city save money on less-complex projects including landscape and maintenance work.

The city still has the choice to require prevailing wage on complex projects.


Is it a good move for the city to pay workers less than prevailing wages?

Mark De Monbrun January 25, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Let's all race to the bottom. Sorry folks, Economic Slavery (no matter the reasoning behind it) is NOT an option.
neil struthers January 25, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Ask the City of Palo Alto how exempting themselves from Prevailing Wages has worked for them? their library project is a year behind schedule and have paid over a million dollars in change orders and is headed for litigaton. where the city of Gilroy built a similar size library during the same time with prevailing wages and was finished ahead of schedule, under-budget with no litigation and employed more local contractors and workers than the Palo Alto library.
Clifford F. Baker January 25, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Rather than only penalizing workers for poor work habits and craftsmanship by cutting their wages, why don't we try penalizing leadership for its mismanagement, hubris, and geed? The ideation that labor is always the problem and the prevailing dismissive attitude towards the worth of those who actually do the work, is, in my estimation, wearing thin. A broad spectrum of people within a community making a livable income is that communities' tax base to a large extent. Unless Newport Beach and other communities plan on generating income solely on retirees, allowing monies to flow through the "working class" is a paramount priority. That I am expressing facts that are not already known and well established (by both empirical and anecdotal data) is not the case. The question is why do we choose to ignore and to sacrifice them on the altar of political gain? It is quite probable that those who sit on the Newport Beach governing body would throw a screaming fit if it were even suggested that their incomes be diminished so as to allow the city coffers to be better padded. They receive compensation and benefits regardless of how well they perform, n'est pas?
Kevin Dayton January 29, 2013 at 05:00 AM
In 2012, the City of Newport Beach entered into a $5,880.00 maintenance contract for “abatement of algae around the Grand Canal beaches of Balboa Island” that included the requirement for the contractor to pay state-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wage). Is it really the business of the state legislature to impose such a requirement on the City of Newport Beach for $6000 in algae clean-up?
Dave L. Everett III January 29, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Great job Newport Beach City Council! We should all write or email the council and thank them for this brave vote to protect taxpayers. It is so rare to see government officials use so much common sense! The taxpayers of Newport Beach are going to save millions in city tax dollars by using competitive bidding for services and not having to pay state mandated, higher than market value, wages on locally funded projects such as roads, park improvements, sidewalks, alleys and libraries. An August 2003 study from the California Institute for County Government at California State University, Sacramento shows that federal commercial prevailing wage rates and state prevailing wage rates in California are on average 36 percent to 55 percent higher than market wages.


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