Fresno mayor delivers State of the City address

FRESNO, Calif.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin used the annual "State of the City" address to boast of the city's successes, while warning of the potential of financial collapse.

The mayor used her yearly address to highlight the city's improvements, but she also warned of what she says could happen if voters don't go along with her plan to turn residential garbage collection over to a private company.

It's a plan opposed not only by unions, but now, by a prominent conservative leader.

Swearengin highlighted the positive developments in the city over the past year, including new downtown housing, and the Food Expo, which was helping local food processors get their products to a broader market and helped attract at lone new business to Fresno.

The 2012 Fresno Food Expo was a major home run.

As to the city budget, she said a $120 million deficit had been cut down to $6 million.

But she said voters need to approve her plan, called Measure G, to turn residential garbage pickup over to a private company.

She says that would pay the city about $2.5 million dollars a year, and keep the city from going under, a threat carried in Thursday's edition of USA Today.

"When they released the story that listed ten cities in California that may declare bankruptcy, Fresno is one of them. It's very real, and very serious," Swearengin said.

The union representing city garbage collectors along with the Fresno police officers association and the local Democratic party are among those opposing Measure G.

The mayor's campaign has banked on the support of conservative Republicans to get it passed.

But a key local conservative leader, Tal Cloud of the Republican Fresno County Lincoln Club, is opposing Measure G, which turns trash collection over to one company - Mid Valley Disposal.

"I understand her wanting to appeal to conservatives but the reality is its crony capitalism it's a back door deal, there's a lot of negotiating going on behind closed doors that's not good for the taxpayers and at the end of the day the savings are not all that great," Cloud said.

While the upcoming vote on Measure G was a key focus of her speech, Swearengin also highlighted efforts to improve blighted neighborhoods and fight homelessness.

But it was Measure G that took center stage. The mayor is banking on its passage.

After the city council approved it by just one vote, voters balked and signed petitions to put it to a public vote. That election will take place on June 4.

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