City of Fresno addresses garbage problems

FRESNO, Calif.

"It just seems frustration in terms of businesses that called me saying I called and called and nobody returned my calls, so then I started calling the individual company saying these are the concerns the folks have , this is who called, please call them back."

We contacted the businesses that complained to Quintero. None wanted to be quoted, but one told us that after Quintero intervened their billing issue had been resolved by the private company.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin pushed to privatize commercial garbage services in order to raise about $2 million a year for the city. As a result about 60 city workers had to transfer to the private companies, for lower pay. She was confronted by some protesting city garbage workers Thursday night.

Sanitation worker Daniel Santos says he's hearing complaints from business owners. "Mainly because of their rates. Their service has dropped and their rates have gone up already, since the December 5th takeover."

Swearengin acknowledges there are some problems. "There have been three or four major issues that have been identified we're in the middle of getting to the bottom of it... our response to the property owners is we've got a lot of due diligence to do but the bottom line is we are committed to making sure their rates stayed the same on average and we'll make sure that happens."

Bills, on average were supposed to be the same, or lower with the privatization but in response to complaints Fresno Public works director Patrick Weimiller says every commercial account is being looked at, to determine if the private companies are billing properly.

Weimiller said, "We actually are stepping through each of the 8 thousand accounts to look and see and our estimations is right now three quarters or more have reductions in their amount."

But, Weimiller acknowledges some businesses could be seeing increases due to the private companies' different rate structure for handling recyclable waste.

City Sanitation workers say the problems faced by the eight thousand commercial customers will be magnified if the city privatizes residential garbage collection. The city is currently funding a study to test the feasibility of turning the more than one hundred thousand residential customers over to private trash haulers.

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