In a scene I fully expect to play out in hundreds of cities across the nation, all related to extravagant union contracts, the City of Fresno Declares Fiscal Emergency
The city of Fresno is facing a $30.6 million budget shortfall and the mayor announced she wants to cut hundreds of city jobs. Mayor Ashley Swearengin says 225 jobs will be eliminated and 81 vacancies will go unfilled. It means roughly one out of every 12 city workers will be let go. At a news conference Monday, Swearengin says the city is in a state of “fiscal emergency.”
In addition to the cuts, outsourcing city services to the private sector and charging a franchise fee is a big part of her plan. In return the city would receive millions of dollars in revenue.
Mayor Swearengin said the fiscal emergency declaration, which will be presented to City Council Thursday for approval, is necessary to allow the City to use its emergency reserves to help meet the daunting budget challenges by paying for one-time expenses related to budget cuts.
Franchising commercial solid waste operations
The franchising to private-owned service providers presents a number of potential benefits to the city, most notably franchise fee collection opportunities to benefit the City’s General Fund and introduction of commercial solid waste service collection. The franchise fee could generate $2 million to $3 million annually to the General Fund.
Outsourcing park maintenance
The proposed budget includes funds for PARCS to continue to keep parks open and provide maintenance services but at dramatically reduced levels. The city is now working to determine if the quality and cost of the maintenance services can be improved by contracting with local landscaping companies to maintain parks and other green spaces in designated landscape areas.
“We’re fundamentally changing the way that the City does business by focusing on essential public services – services that no other entity can provide – and making sure we’re delivering them as efficiently as possible,” Mayor Swearengin said.
As much as I applaud outsourcing ridiculously overpaid trash collectors and park maintenance crews, I have to say that Mayor Swearengin wimped out by wasting a golden opportunity to outsource the entire fire department as well.
Mayor Swearengin is cutting the edges Fresno’s bloated budget, the core of which is police and fire salaries and benefits.
Mayor Swearengin claims “It’s a budget with promise.” I claim the budget has no promise because she did not address the fundamental problem: police and fire contracts and pension promises that are out of control.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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