Politics

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has a new budget plan

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin's hope of winning $12 million in concessions from city employees has fallen short, so she came up with a new plan for the City Council to consider.

"An alternate proposal for you to consider given the assumption we are not going to reach an agreement with the majority of our bargaining groups."

The alternate proposal calls for making the cuts by selling residential garbage service to private companies, cutting payments to the retirement fund and winning nearly five million in employee concessions, most of that from the police union.

The Mayor is also hoping sales tax revenues will be up, the city will cut administrative costs and reduce the money it puts into its account to pay lawsuits.

The police union is considering the mayor's proposal to accept cuts with no concessions but they want a contract extension in return. Something the Mayor says she won't do. "Giving an extension really costs the city. We anticipate it will cost us at least 10 million dollars in savings we would otherwise achieve in contract negotiations.

Residential Garbage privatization is expected to be a fight with employee groups, just as last year's privatization of commercial garbage pickup was. Marina Magdaleno represents the solid waste workers union. "It's a very costly process. It's very costly for the city it will be costly for the private companies that go out to bid and the people that absorb the costs will be the taxpayers. Because rates will definitely go up."

The garbage privatization wouldn't take effect for months, if the city council approves. The Fresno Police Officers Association is set to vote on the contract concessions Thursday. If they don't approve the city will have to come up with another plan. The deadline to have a budget in place is Friday.

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