The people of Fresno have spoken on Measure G: They want to keep their city-supplied garbage service.
Now it's up to Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the City Council to fill an estimated $2.85 million hole in the 2013-14 fiscal year general fund caused by the loss of revenue from the anticipated outsourcing of residential trash collection to Mid Valley Disposal.
Even before the Measure G defeat and voter rejection of Swearengin's privatization plan was officially confirmed Wednesday afternoon, the mayor outlined two options to the City Council — reduce the police force by 25 more officers through attrition or eliminate 49 civilian positions in the municipal work force.
A third possibility is reworking the city's contract with the Fresno Police Officers Association. Jacky Parks, the association president, has offered $8 million in concessions in exchange for a contract extension.
As the mayor and the council mull the possibilities, the public should focus on the minority of Council members who opposed outsourcing garbage pickup and aligned themselves with the union trash haulers during the Measure G campaign.
Of those three Council members, only Oliver Baines offered a serious suggestion — a public safety tax — on how to maintain current police and fire protection levels without relying on monies from trash privatization.
Council Members Blong Xiong and Sal Quintero have contributed little to the discussion about Fresno's dire municipal finances other than buzz words and platitudes. It's time for them to stop ducking their responsibilities to the people of their districts and the city at large.
It's also time for the mayor and the council to do everything they can to accelerate the city's economic recovery. While Swearengin has demonstrated political courage in tackling the city's fiscal problems head on, her focus must pivot for the remainder of her second term to growing the municipal revenue stream by increasing private investment in Fresno.
The Measure G debate pitted neighbor vs. neighbor and divided City Hall. It chewed through millions of dollars, stirred up emotions and diverted attention from the most important mission of all — making Fresno a better place for all of us. Let's put Measure G in the past and forge ahead.
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