Sonoma County supervisors are set to extend a composting services contract for four months, a period during which ratepayers will pay $120,000 more than they would have under a contract proposed in June.

The contract is between the county's Waste Management Agency and Sonoma Compost, the company that handles composting services on 27 acres at the Mecham Road landfill.

Waste agency staff in June proposed a new contract with Sonoma Compost that cost $30,000 a month less and would have taken effect immediately.

But its approval was held up because the county's representative on the agency board, Deputy County Director of Transportation and Public Works Susan Klassen, voted against it.

Klassen said more time was needed to review a simultaneously proposed, separate lease between the agency and county for the section of the landfill used for composting.

The logjam was variously blamed on poor preparation by the waste agency or last-minute intransigence on the county's part.

The agency "came in with this huge savings, but they hadn't done the lease work; we were somewhat blindsided," Transportation and Public Works Director Phil Demery said Friday.

Ultimately, the waste agency board had to negotiate a four-month contract extension with Sonoma Compost to allow it to continue operations.

Supervisors have been asked to approve that extension Tuesday and also to authorize Klassen to approve the proposed new lease.

Waste management staff maintain they provided adequate time for review of both the contract and lease. They said Friday they have submitted all the necessary information.

"We understand that there's a process that needs to happen, and people need to review it, and maybe there's some negotiation that needs to happen. But we believe that we've done everything required on our side," said Patrick Carter, program manager at the waste agency.

Demery said: "As soon as we have something, we can implement it and get the kinds of savings we want."

(You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or