Jobs, money and trash are the hot topic inside Fresno city hall. After months of heated discussions, council members approved a resolution to move forward with privatizing residential trash service.
A big financial mess is piling up in Fresno, and some city officials are focusing on garbage to clean it up. Thursday night in a 4-3 vote, the city council approved privatizing residential trash service.
District 6 council member Lee Brand says, "This is just a necessary step towards fiscal solvency."
Nothing is set in stone yet, but if plans go through, the city's trash service would be handed over to Mid-Valley Disposal. The contract would generate about $2.5 million a year. Brand says without the extra money, the city could face bankruptcy.
"I've looked at the numbers and the city is roughly about $5 million short. I would fear that if for some reason this didn't pass, that our next step may be a declaration of fiscal emergency."
The issue is a heated one. One that has the council divided.
District 1 council member Blong Xiong says, "Now you wanna take away another award winning department away from the people that provides great because we've made bad decisions in the past and I don't believe that justifies what we're doing."
About 120 current city workers would be hired through the private company, but they would take a pay cut and only be guaranteed a job for a year.
"To me you're putting money versus people's lives and that's really the basis of this," says Xiong.
Brand says, "It's not as good as they had with the city but the 800 other city employees that were laid off the last few years did not have a job waiting for them."
Brand says the new service will save citizens roughly $5 a month for the first two years. But those opposed say the city needs to address it's own waste, before shifting services.
"This is a short term solution. It doesn't solve our budget," says Xiong.
Thursday night's vote was just the first of three needed before the private service becomes official. A final decision should be reached December 13th.
If the contract is approved, Mid-Valley Disposal would likely begin taking over service sometime in March.