A deal between Santa Rosa and its garbage hauler that would generate $1.8 million more a year for the cash-strapped city is coming under increasing attack by conservation interests, labor groups and potential competitors.
The focus of attention is the City Council's consideration today of an agreement to extend North Bay Corporation's contract, set to expire at the end of 2012, by 10 years in exchange for company financial concessions that could generate a minimum of $23 million for the city through the year 2022.
"The $1.8 million will definitely help. It's a big drop in the bucket," Councilwoman Jane Bender said, referring to a city budget deficit of nearly $10 million.
But representatives of a half-dozen organizations are urging the council to dump the proposal and seek competitive bids when North Bay's contract expires. The opponents include Sonoma County Conservation Action, Curtis Michelini, owner of a small garbage and recycling company, the North Bay Labor Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
North Bay, a non-union employer wrested the contract from Empire Waste Management in 2002 when, for the first time in 54 years, the city put its garbage franchise out to bid, a move that resulted in substantially lower rates for Santa Rosa home and business owners.
Santa Rosa's residential rates currently rank among the lowest of Sonoma County's nine cities. City officials said that under that contract North Bay pays the city $3.3 million a year in franchise fees and other contributions.
Deputy City Manager Greg Scoles, the city's lead negotiator, said the proposed revised agreement would do several things, including:
-- Increase the annual franchise fee from 10 percent of gross revenue to 11 percent, raising the amount the company pays from $2.4 million to $2.64 million.
-- Require the company to pay a 4.5 percent franchise extension fee, also on gross revenues, generating $1.1 million annually for the city.
-- Have North Bay take over city street-sweeping operations, which cost $500,000 a year. North Bay would operate it for free over an 18-month period to compensate the city for revenue that audits indicated North Bay had not properly forwarded to the city between 2005 and 2007.