Mayor Swearengin: City of Fresno to Implement ‘Deeper Layoff Plan’ Over Next Two Weeks
– Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said she has directed City Manager Mark Scott to implement a “deeper layoff plan” over the next two weeks to address financial challenges faced by the City because of a delay in implementing a residential solid waste franchise.
Mayor Swearengin made her remarks in response to a determination by the Fresno County Clerk and City Clerk that City unions were successful in collecting enough signatures to force the privatization of the City’s residential solid waste service back to City Council to determine whether the issue will be taken to the ballot.
“Because of the delay in implementing the residential solid waste as budgeted, I have directed the City Manager to implement another layoff plan,” Mayor Swearengin said. “For the last three weeks, he has been working with his staff and the department heads to finalize that plan. Now that we know the franchise could be delayed as long as another four months, the City Manager has directed the staff to come up with an even deeper layoff plan to try to get us through the end of the fiscal year.”
The City had expected to receive about $200,000 per month from the franchise beginning in March.
Mayor Swearengin said she has taken the City’s financial distress seriously “from Day One,” pointing to a number of steps taken to address budget challenges:
- Seven rounds of layoffs and budget cuts, reducing the City’s workforce by about 900 positions and addressing a $120 million cumulative budget shortfall;
- Eliminating programs that the City could live without and turning over responsibilities to non-profits to carry on programs that the City no longer has the resources to operate;
- Raising building fees to cover the City’s costs;
- Taken responsibility for $36 million in negative fund balances that had accumulated over the last 20 years, paying back about half of that total; and
- Putting in place the Fiscal Sustainability Policy, which includes a 10-year plan to stabilize the City’s finances and repay all negative fund balances, to codify fiscal discipline.
“Because of these aggressive actions, we’ve stayed afloat,” Mayor Swearengin said. “We’ve made progress on the path to financial stability, but we are not out of the woods.
“There are two actions that we must take to protect our City from complete decimation of public safety and, potentially, insolvency – privatizing our solid waste services and relatively modest concessions from our bargaining groups. Those two things must happen for our city to survive.”
Mayor Swearengin said privatizing residential solid waste provides revenues to keep more police officers on the streets and keep fire stations open. In addition, she said the franchise also would help maintain the City’s “already thread-bare” median island and park maintenance programs.
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