PD Editorial: County's costly delay of new landfill pact

  • PC: A windrow turner goes through a windrow of composting yard trimmings at Sonoma Compost at the Sonoma County landfill on Wednesday afternoon. cc0220_Compost_windrows.jpg

    2/21/2002: B1: A pile of composting yard trimmings is measured at 141 degrees Fahrenheit. The compost is kept at a minimum of 131 degrees for 15 days in order to dispose of pathogens and most common yard chemicals.

In these tight times, it's unfathomable that a public agency would knowingly waste $30,000 a month.

Yet that's just what appears to be happening here in Sonoma County, where a bureaucratic dispute over the lease for a compost producer at the central landfill is siphoning money from [NEWS_00]the pockets of local ratepayers at the rate of about $1,000 a day.

It's not only unfathomable, it's unacceptable, and it ought to be addressed right away.

However, there's little evidence that county officials are in any particular hurry to clean up this mess of their making.

While all sides agree on the amount of money involved, the details of the conflict are almost as opaque as the dark mounds of compost at the Mecham Road landfill.

As reported Sunday by Staff Writer Jeremy Hay, the primary players are Sonoma County and the Waste Management Agency, which operates the county-owned landfill and is jointly operated by the county and local cities.

In turn, the waste agency leases space at the landfill to Sonoma Compost, a company that processes lawn clippings and other organic waste collected from local ratepayers.

Under a five-year lease extension, the agency and its ratepayers stand to save $30,000 a month.

OK, so far, so good.

When the lease came before the agency board on June 20, the vote was 9-1 in favor, with Sonoma County's representative casting the lone "no" vote. But because the Waste Management Agency's rules required the vote to be unanimous, the contract was rejected.

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