Oceanside City Council rejects outsourcing public works services in split vote

OCEANSIDE — City Council voted against outsourcing city trash removal, weed abatement and landfill maintenance services on May 16. 

Outsourcing city street sweeping services and recreational custodial services also failed in a split vote.

Councilmen Jerry Kern and Gary Felien voted in favor of outsourcing services. They said they appreciated the service of city workers, but wanted to save the city money.

Outsourcing proposals promised to save the city $107,000 annually in trash removal, weed abatement and landfill maintenance services; $118,00 in street sweeping costs the first year; and $41,000 in recreational custodial services the first year.

Felien said fellow council members demonstrated a lack of courage for not outsourcing services.

Others said the savings were minimal and gave specific example of how little outsourcing landfill maintenance services saved.

“We’re talking 18 cents per month per household by eliminating four positions that will have a catastrophic effect on the rest of the department,” Chip Brust, president of Oceanside Employees Association, said.

“We’re just nickel and diming what’s really the problem, furlough pay reductions across the board,” Councilman Jack Feller said. “I want to go in that direction, not in this direction.”

Over 30 public works division employees came to the council meeting and half a dozen employees addressed city council. They said they wanted to keep their jobs and spoke in support of fellow workers.

“I’m the main provider of my family,” Albert Raceles, public works employee, said. “I just want to keep working.”

The advantages of city workers’ experience, 24/7 on call responses to emergencies, teamwork with other city departments, and city loyalty were shared.

“We know all the streets, are hard working, and are on call,” Jimmy Walker, a 23-year public works employee, said.

Loss of city control if work was outsourced was also discussed.

Chester Mordasini, president of California Teamsters local 911, said public works employees have made strides to work with the city to trim budget costs by not taking pay raises, paying more into their medical costs, and agreeing to pay full employees PERS costs.

In the 3-2 votes that defeated outsourcing city services Feller was the swing vote against outsourcing. Feller often votes in agreement with Kern and Felien, but did not support them in outsourcing city services.

Feller was outspoken about not outsourcing public library staff in a March 14 council vote. He credited library staff for recruiting and managing volunteers who collectively put in 26,000 hours of service to keep the library running.

He also spoke favorably of city public works employees.

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