Calling it an “important development” in helping the City address its budget challenges, Mayor Ashley Swearengin Monday said a proposal to establish a commercial solid waste franchise will now move forward since a majority of Fresno City Council now supports creation of the franchise.

Mayor Swearengin proposed the commercial solid waste franchise as part of a package of to address a potential $18.5 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2012 budget, which begins July 1.  Under the proposal, the city would receive $2.5 million in each year of the 10-year life of the contract, and private operators would hire all the displaced City commercial solid waste drivers and guarantee their jobs for 12 months.

“This is an important development in helping us address our budget challenges,” Mayor Swearengin said.  “Creating the franchise keeps the rates the same or lower for our  commercial customers, provides jobs for affected city workers, and provides $2.5 million in revenue for the most critical city services each year for the 10-year life of the contract – services like police officers, firefighters, parks maintenance and operations, and public works.”

Mayor Swearengin said councilmember Clint Olivier late last week informed her and Council President Lee Brand that he would support creation of the franchise, providing the fourth vote for the proposal with the seven-member Council

“I applaud Councilmember Olivier for re-evaluating this issue and working with Council President Brand and my administration in making this contract even better for ratepayers,” Mayor Swearengin said.

Mayor Swearengin said a total of five council votes will be needed, starting at Council’s Thursday meeting when to approve development of the final contracts for the franchise.  Final contracts are expected to be brought back for Council approval in approximately 45 days, and the franchise is expected to be created by Oct. 1.  The franchise is expected to generate $1.9 million for the City’s General Fund in fiscal year 2012.

“With the franchise in place and with the 3 percent concessions we have requested, the City’s budget will be balanced with very few layoffs being required in the next fiscal year,” Mayor Swearengin said.  “We believe it’s worth it for our bargaining units to cooperation with the Administration and Council to save public services and save as many jobs as possible.”