Sonoma County reaches temporary composting deal

  • 7/10/2010: B1:
    PC: Jaime Ramos waters down a compost piles at Sonoma Compost in Cotati, July 8, 2010.

Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday authorized a temporary contract extension between the county and the company that handles composting operations at the Mecham Road landfill.

The four-month contract extension with Sonoma Compost will save the county Waste Management Agency $30,000 a month following a last-minute change in the agreement.

Originally, the savings were not scheduled to kick in until the Board of Supervisors approved a final contract. But the Petaluma company volunteered to reduce costs immediately, said Susan Klassen, the county's deputy director of public works and transportation.

"This is a good-faith effort on our part," said Pam Davis, a Sonoma Compost representative.

In June, the county appeared to have lost the opportunity to capture at least $120,000 in savings when Klassen, its representative on the 10-member waste agency board, voted against a new five-year contract that was scheduled to take effect this month. That forced the proposed four-month extension in the contract.

Waste agency staff and other board members criticized that holdup, saying the county was off-base in complaints that it had not been given enough time to review a separate lease allowing Sonoma Compost to use part of the landfill for composting operations.

But Board Chairwoman Shirlee Zane rebuked agency staff Tuesday for not bringing the lease up for review at the same time as the contract.

"I think it's unfortunate that a contract came forward in a vacuum to begin with," she said.

Zane said the agency's executive director, Henry Mikus, "has been sitting there through the whole process" since discussions over a new lease and contract began last year.

Mikus is on vacation and could not be reached for comment Tuesday,

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