Public Works Director Patrick Wiemiller tells Action News: "The assets have been turned over, the folks that worked for us now work for the private haulers and started their first day of work today. Hopefully the customers will not notice a lot of changes, that it will be smooth service as usual."
But it's not business as usual for the 65 or so former city employees who now collect garbage for the private companies. They had to accept a pay cut of around $6.00 per hour. But, the city is making money on the deal, about $ 2.5 million a year in franchise fees paid by the garbage companies. Money the city claims it needs to deal with a multi-million dollar budget deficit.
Marina Magdellano is the union representative for the former city workers. "Remember, all of this is about money. This has nothing to do with nothing else but money. It has nothing to do with the cost to the citizens of Fresno. They really don't care if the rates are going to go up or not."
Under the deal the private haulers will be free to eventually raise commercial rates 5% per year. The city council may soon be considering a similar deal for residential customers.
"There has been a contract to look at the feasibility on the residential side as well, the residential is a different approach altogether it's a little bit different business model it may or not work but that's what the feasibility study is all about." Wiemiller said.
It's important to remember the costs of garbage collection don't come out of the city budget. It's a nonprofit service that pays for itself. The city makes money by selling the service to companies who hope to make a profit.