The trash debate moves to an unprecedented level on Wednesday as word comes in that the union collected enough signatures to stop privatization, at least temporarily.
“It is a big step for us. But it's a bittersweet feeling because we know the city is having some financial problems,” said Marina Magdaleno, a union representative.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin says she'll ask the city council to send the issue to public vote. She's hopeful voters will eventually approve privatization, but in the meantime, there will be layoffs.
“Because of the delay in implementing the franchise, we will implement a layoff plan. We will have to do further layoffs and keep police officers off the streets, look at closing fire stations and other cuts, should the franchise not be implemented by the voters,” said Swearengin.
She blames the union for causing some financial hardship, saying citizens were told lies to get them to sign the petition to stop privatization.
“They said everyone will lose their job, they didn't mention the important detail that all effected workers will get jobs with the private hauler. Without the private hauler, dozens of other city employees will be laid off and they don't have other jobs to go to,” said Swearengin.
The union says Swearengin isn’t forthcoming with all the facts, and only says what she wants residents to hear.
“We can both call each other liars because she calls us liars and I call her a liar because she's not telling the whole truth to the public as well,” said Magdaleno.
The council will decide on a special election on February 28th. The estimated cost is up to $1 million dollars.