Mayor Swearengin: ‘Deep and Painful Cuts’ Needed After Council Rejects Commercial Solid Waste Proposal
Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said she will begin to implement “deep and painful cuts” as a result of Fresno City Council’s failure to pass a proposal to franchise the City’s commercial solid waste operations.

“I’m disappointed in the majority of the council’s decision on this issue,” Mayor Swearengin said. “I believe it is irresponsible and doesn’t help us confront the serious budget issues that we face. As a result, we must make deeper and more painful cuts than we had anticipated to address our budget shortfall.”

Mayor Swearengin said her commercial solid waste proposal would have provided $1.5 million to the city’s general fund this fiscal year, a significant step in dealing with an estimated $5.8 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011, which ends June 30.
A total of 109 employees would have been affected by the proposal; however, 85 would have been hired by a franchisee and 10 would have been moved to the city’s residential collection operation. Fourteen employees would have been laid off with no private sector opportunity.

As a result of council’s action, Mayor Swearengin said that between 50 and 65 city employees likely will be laid off. The cuts will affect departments throughout the City and also will impact the Mayor’s Office, the City Manager’s Office, council offices, the City Attorney's Office, and other administrative functions.

“With every budget decision we make at City Hall, we must think first about our residents and what's in their best interest and then how to treat our employees fairly. The commercial solid waste proposal would have had a positive impact on our customers by lowering their rates and minimal impact on our employees since the overwhelming majority of employees would have had immediate reemployment opportunities in the private sector. That will not be the case for the employees who will now be affected by the cuts needed to balance the budget.”

In addition to personnel and administrative cuts, Mayor Swearengin said closing or mothballing the city’s seven flagship neighborhood centers -- Dickey Youth Development Center, Ted C. Wills, Mosqueda, Romain, Frank H. Ball, Holmes and the EOC Youth Center -- are “on the table” as potential budget-cutting measures.