Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Fresno County does not see income opportunity in trash franchises

If the city of Fresno can make $2.5 million a year by franchising its trash service, shouldn’t the county of Fresno be cashing in on its independent trash haulers?

Not necessarily, county leaders say.

County Administrative Officer John Navarrette said charging private companies for the right to pick up trash could result in rate hikes for the tens of thousands of households in unincorporated areas.

“In other words, instead of trying to get the revenue, let’s make sure we can keep the rates as reasonable as we can,” he said.

Navarrette wasn’t around when the county began contracting with private haulers for residential trash service seven years ago. But he suspects that the little bit of money that might be made off haulers wasn’t worth the hassle.

Plus, the situation for the county is slightly different from the city’s. Unlike the city, the county had no existing trash department when it began contracting for trash service in 2005, meaning there were no existing customers or business model to prove its worth.

The county, though, does charge a nominal fee to the 12 contractors that pick up trash — to cover administrative expenses.

The Fresno City Council just a week ago gave final approval to outsourcing residential trash collection, a move that Mayor Ashley Swearengin said can bring in an initial $1.5 million in signing fees and $2.5 million annually in franchise fees.