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Fresno's budget hinges on Measure G

Mayor Ashley Swearengin says approving trash privatization means fiscal sustainability in the future, but opponents of the measure say it's not enough money to make a big difference.

The City of Fresno may have a balanced budget if Measure G passes.  That's according to Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who projects a $6 million dollar gap for fiscal year 2014.  The city released the new budget proposal Wednesday afternoon.

The mayor says the budget looks pretty good but it hinges on voters approving Measure G, which is privatization of residential trash pickup.  Those against the measure say it's not enough to fix the city's budget issues.  Swearengin admits she's relying on a big "if" for the planned budget to work.

"It does require voters approve Measure G on Tuesday.  It also requires us to get some modest concessions from employees who have open contracts this year," said Swearengin.

To close a $6 million gap, $4 million would come from franshice fees and $2 million would come from employee concessions.  She says higher revenues, cuts to services and scaling back city employees by over 25% in the last several years has put the city back on track.  Next year's budget leaves services and staffing at the current, minimal levels.

Wednesday morning three local Chambers of Commerce spoke out in favor of Measure G.  They believe it's good for business and protects residents from losing more police officers and firefighters.

"This is the easiest, softest way to solve a problem and everybody comes out of here still employed," said Al Smith, leader of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.

Those against Measure G maintain the current trash hauling system isn't broken and privatizing won't fix the city's fiscal crisis.

"The money it's going to bring in is not going to solve the budget problem," said Dee Barnes, a union leader.

The mayor says in the long run, Measure G is exactly what the city needs.

"Measure G goes a long way to solving the problem.  In fact, over the next 5 years it's $14 million in revenue.  Four million next year and another $2.5 million every year following," said Swearengin.

The special election is Tuesday, June 4th.  Residents of Fresno are strongly encouraged to vote.  Click on the related link for more election information.

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