Fresno City Council votes to privatize residential waste collection

FRESNO, Calif.

It's been a hotly contested issue for the past year. Thursday night's meeting was the 7th with public comment. 160 city garbage workers will now work for Mid Valley Disposal. Many of them have been outspoken on the issue during as they'll likely see lower wages and decreased benefits. Council members say outsourcings trash will bring the city a few million dollars.

After the meeting, Mayor Ashley Swearengin told members of the local media that the night was emotional for everyone involved. "The reality is we'd have to make severe cuts to other employees who would not have the offer of a job the employees who are affected by this decision do have a one year guarantee employment with a private hauler and I can't make that same guarantee for people who would otherwise be on the unemployment lines."

Dozens of people spoke on the issue, including former council member Les Kimber. "The whole thing is irresponsible and short sided. You can't fix budget problems by selling off city property."

During the meeting, Councilmember Larry Westerlund said the "facts are the facts" and that the waste transfer will bring money to the city for a long time. He also said if Mid Valley doesn't take over, the city won't make payroll.

Councilmember Oliver Baines said, "We're all going to look back on this and regret this."

One woman told the council and a packed city hall, that she came with her own budget idea. "I propose all of you reduce your council salaries by at least half, I propose that."

City garbage, recycling and green waste will be provided by Mid Valley Disposal on Monday, March 4th. The council also voted in favor of reducing the hourly wages for bus drivers by 3 percent. That reduction goes into effect on January first and affects 220 people.

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