After hours and hours of discussion, Fresno City Council members finally approved the Mayor's budget proposal by a 6 to 1 vote.
“It’s always a big occasion when one gets passed,” said Councilman Clint Olivier.
The biggest sticking point in the budget is the possible privatization of residential trash pickup.
“I don't want that to happen,” said Councilman Sal Quintero.
Councilman Sal Quintero, Blong Xiong and Oliver Baines made a motion to remove it but they lost that vote.
Even with this budget being approved, a private company will not begin picking up household waste. That would require a separate hearing just like what was done when the city privatized commercial waste pickup. The city says contracting out residential service would generate $2.5 million a year.
“This privatization debate is something that has to be done because the revenue is not coming into the general fund like we need it,” said Olivier.
In other news Thursday evening, the Fresno Police Officers Association agreed to make $5.7 worth of concessions, but they also want their contract extended by a year. Mayor Ashley Swearengin has strongly opposed the idea of an extension.
If the city accepts the F.P.O.A.'s offer, the budget would be balanced and Fresno could stay one step further away from a bankruptcy situation like Stockton is facing.
“That is a very real issue that we need to not let go from the forefront of our thinking,” said Councilman Larry Westerlund.
The council also added a couple items to the budget proposal. First, they want to retain a graffiti and prostitution prosecutor in city attorney's office. Secondly, if they win $600,000 in a pending lawsuit, they want that money to be used to fix street lights that copper wire thieves have hit.
Mayor Swearengin has 10 days to sign and accept the budget or make amendments for the council to review and vote on again.