It’s official, the city of Fresno will hold a special election in June. It means voters are left to decide whether or not to privatize trash collection at homes.
Thursday night, council members voted 4 to 3 in favor of the election. It trumps the efforts of union members who gathered nearly 30,000 signatures on a petition designed to stop the city’s plan of outsourcing garbage collection.
City leaders are not happy about having to pay upwards of a million dollars to put on this election, but believe it’s a smart investment for Fresno’s economic future.
The two hour long discussion surrounding residential trash privatization in Fresno featured many opponents who spoke up, 16 to be precise.
“It’s a short term Band-Aid which promises to be a long term disaster,” said Michael Evans, an opponent.
Only two people voiced support. Al Smith sees it as a sensible solution.
“In our view, adding another tax to public safety is not a solution,” said Al Smith, a supporter.
Under the guidelines, Fresno’s garbage men would take a job with Mid-Valley Disposal.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says these transitions are commonplace nowadays.
“90% of California cities use private haulers,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin.
Mid-Valley would pay $2.5 million in franchise fees to the city’s general fund each year. The mayor says that money would help pay off debt and prevent layoffs.
“Assuming the residential solid waste revenue is in place, there is a glimmer of hope for us at the end of five years,” said Mayor Swearengin.
Councilman Sal Quintero says holding this election makes the city look like hypocrites.
“How can we tell residents we’re flat broke and then pay close to a million dollars to have an election,” said Councilman Sal Quintero.
Meanwhile, Steve Brandau argued that this is a public matter and the hundreds of thousands who have not weighed in should get a voice.
“We just need to let the citizens of Fresno tell us now where to go on this issue,” said Councilman Steve Brandau.
In the end, some felt this election is being rushed and that it should be delayed until next year.
“Put it over to June 2014, I will accept that,” said Doug Vagen.
However, the council rejected that idea.
Voters are scheduled to cast their ballots on June 4th.
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