Government & Politics
5:55 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Petition Campaign Successful, Fresno Trash Privatization Hits Snag

Credit City of Fresno Public Utilities

Opponents of the City of Fresno’s move to privatize residential trash pickup scored major a victory today. And according to Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, that means another round of layoffs for city employees could begin soon. 

The issue of privatizing Fresno’s residential trash service may soon be headed to a vote of city residents. Backers of a petition drive to stop the city from selling off the service to a private company learned today that they have gathered enough signatures to at least put a temporary halt to the effort.

City officials had hoped to begin collecting $200,000 a month in franchise fees from Mid Valley Disposal starting in March, plus a $1.5 million signing bonus. The city says the money would have helped plug a portion of Fresno’s $5 million budget gap.

But that plan is now in doubt. The successful signature campaign means that the issue now goes back before the city council, which now has two options: either rescind the earlier vote to privatize the service, or send the issue to voters in a special election.

Either option will leave the city scrambling for solutions to what it calls a cash flow crisis. Even if voters ultimately upheld the selloff, the delay of up to four months means city hall officials are looking at other ways to keep the budget in check.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced today that she is directing City Manager Mark Scott to prepare another layoff plan for city workers. It would be the eighth round of layoffs since Swearengin first took office in 2009.

It’s unclear when the layoffs would begin or what departments would be most affected. 

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