Council takes first step toward privatized trash pick-up

FRESNO, Calif.

The political shift happened when council members Clint Olivier and Oliver Baines moved their votes from the "no" to the "yes" column.

Now, it appears inevitable that city garbage workers will be replaced in order help the city balance its budget.

"This is definitely dirty politics with unethical strong-arming," said David Calhoon, he was one of several city garbage workers who argued against the council's support to privatize the trash collection.

The plan would essentially sell the city's commercial garbage collection service.

"What happens if these private haulers go out of business," questioned Calhoon. "Then they're not guaranteed their two and a half million dollars."

Under the plan, the city would collect about $2.5 million in franchise fees, helping to balance next year's budget that is $6 million in the red.

The council approved the first step of the plan Thursday. Now, up to $75,000 can be spent on drawing up the paperwork between Fresno and the two private companies that would take over trash collection.

"I'm a little disappointed for them to already make their decision before the budget process," said Councilman Blong Xiong. "That's not what the people were looking for; the people are looking for a debate, a heated... healthy discussion."

One man brought a pair of flip flops to give to Clint Olivier, the councilmember who first tipped the scale when he changed his position on the matter. But, Olivier isn't alone. Oliver Baines just switched sides as well.

"That was really a direct relationship to what I heard from my constituents," Baines said.

Several groups did show up to support the decision, including the Chamber of Commerce and a group of downtown property owners.

This vote is not the final vote to privatize commercial solid waste. Council members say the debate over the issue will continue next week.

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