California Prevailing Wage and Assessment Districts

By Melanee Cottrill, Civitas

Here at Civitas, we are lucky to frequently hear from our clients in between projects.  One of our favorite new frequently asked questions is “Do I have to follow prevailing wage?”

As of January 2015, the short and simple answer is … maybe.  For a property and business improvement district providing ongoing maintenance or capital improvements, the short answer is probably.  For a tourism improvement district, the answer is probably not – unless the district is funding capital improvements like wayfinding signage.

Prevailing wage must be paid for “public works projects” which include “work done for … improvement districts” and that is “paid for in whole or in part out of public funds” – including the assessment funds used by PBIDs or TIDs.

There are three small exemptions to prevailing wage for public works projects:

  • Projects that cost less than $1,000
  • Construction projects that cost less than $25,000
  • Demolition, repair, or maintenance that costs less than $15,000

Some cities have local requirements in addition to prevailing wage. Others, particularly charter cities, may not be directly subject to the state prevailing wage laws but have likely adopted similar provisions. Every nonprofit managing assessment district funds should have a contract in place with the city- we recommend taking a look at your contract for further details on your particular local requirements.

For further information on prevailing wage, visit the Department of Industrial Relations ( or give us a call.

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this article or any of the links contained within this email does not create an attorney-client relationship between Civitas and the user.

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