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Mayor Considering Outsourcing Operations At Miramar Landfill

— The mayor's office is looking at outsourcing operations at the city-owned Miramar Landfill as one option to overcome the city's ongoing budget shortfall, it was revealed today.

Food waste at the Miramar Landfill. The mayor's office is looking at outsourcing operations at the city-owned Miramar Landfill. The city council learned about the plan at its meeting on May 25, 2010.
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Above: Food waste at the Miramar Landfill. The mayor's office is looking at outsourcing operations at the city-owned Miramar Landfill. The city council learned about the plan at its meeting on May 25, 2010.

The proposal caught City Council members off-guard when it was brought to their attention by Joan Raymond, president of AFSCME Local 127, which represents municipal garbage workers, during a hearing on whether to extend a lease for bulldozers and other heavy equipment at the Miramar Landfill.

"I just learned this morning that there was an all employees meeting at the Miramar Landfill to inform them of a plan by the strong mayor to give up the city's control of the Miramar Landfill to a private waste company in order to raise money for the city treasury," Raymond told the council.

Councilman Carl DeMaio said the proposal was news to him and his colleagues.

"We shouldn't be approving this item unless we understand our long-term plans for management of the Miramar Landfill," DeMaio said.

Darren Pudgil, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, confirmed that meetings were held Monday and today for the 60 or so employees at the Miramar Landfill to notify them about the proposal.

"We felt an obligation to let our employees know because they might be impacted should we pursue something," he said.

Pudgil said the the idea of outsourcing operations at the Miramar Landfill is only in its "infancy," and no solicitations have been sent out to private companies.

The mayor is looking a number of options to solve San Diego's structural budget deficit, and that the idea of outsourcing the Miramar Landfill is just one of them, he said.

"We're not sure what direction this is going to head in," Pudgil said.

He said it wasn't yet known how much the city could save if it chooses to outsource operations at the landfill, but "we have a very big asset sitting out there."

Raymond condemned the idea of outsourcing landfill operations.

"We are talking about what would become a landmark decision that would give up control of a valuable public asset that is held in the citizens' trust," she told the council.

Raymond said workers represented by Local 127 were not invited to the meetings.

The idea of privatizing workers at the Miramar Landfill comes a month after the City Council, at the urging of Sanders, voted to authorize a $1.23 million contract with a private company to take over information technology support services from the city-controlled San Diego Data Processing Corp.

That effort was considered a bellwether for San Diego's voter-approved managed competition program, which allows private companies to compete for work now performed by city employees.

Managed competition was approved by voters in 2006, but its implementation has been stalled by San Diego's employee labor unions over how it should be implemented.

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