After reversal, Windsor awards garbage contract to Green Waste, its first choice

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The high stakes question about which company would get Windsor’s garbage contract was finally settled Tuesday with the award going again to Green Waste Recovery Inc.

The 3-1 vote came a month after the Town Council first awarded, then rescinded a contract with the San Jose-based company because of political and legal hurdles associated with its proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station.

The final answer Tuesday was to fall back on its first decision after company representatives said they were looking to locate a transfer station closer to Windsor.

“We will not be proposing a transfer facility in Petaluma,” company spokeswoman Emily Finn said. An announcement about a new location is expected within weeks, she said. “On Day 1 we will have facilities north of Petaluma for recyclables.”

The prospect of garbage trucks on Highway 101 making a long trek from Windsor to San Jose — a distance of more than 100 miles — was one of the concerns raised by Councilman Dominic Foppoli, the lone vote against a contract with Green Waste.

But the lower residential rates and environmental practices of Green Waste earned it majority support.

“They’re the most environmentally responsible,” said Councilman Mark Millan, noting the company recycles such waste as compact discs and DVDs that are landfilled by other operators. “They’re more advanced than anyone else and still able to keep rates down.”

The 10-year contract represents more than $52 million in revenue for Green Waste over 10 years.

Rates were projected to rise on Oct. 1 regardless of which company was selected. The current monthly rate of $17.20 for a 32-gallon garbage will increase to $23 under Green Waste. A 64-gallon container will go from $29.31 to $36 with Green Waste.

Windsor’s bidding process has been closely watched by Santa Rosa because many of the same players and issues have been involved as both cities look to renew their expiring garbage contracts.

The Ratto Group, the same company that holds Windsor’s expiring lease, also has a contract with Santa Rosa that expires at the end of the year.

Santa Rosa slimmed the field of bidders to two finalists: Green Waste and Waste Management, the nation’s largest garbage company.

While the Ratto Group also bid for the contract in Windsor, council members were uneasy that the company is in the midst of being sold to Recology, one of the largest garbage and recycling operations on the West Coast.

The other bidder that missed out was Sonoma County Resource Recovery, owned by Garden City Group, Marin Sanitary Service Group and its president Kevin Walbridge.

The odd sequence of reversals on the garbage contract began after the Town Council last month awarded the garbage contract to Green Waste. Two weeks later, it had a change of heart, with members voting 4-1 to reconsider the award, citing unresolved issues over the Green Waste’s proposed Petaluma transfer station, including its proximity to residences. The site also sits across the street from retail and office space, and is close to a youth-oriented gymnastics facility.

The council’s reversal came amid threats of litigation over the lack of an environmental review for the Petaluma transfer site, as well as a letter from three Petaluma City Council members raising objections.

Windsor Councilman Bruce Okrepkie was absent Tuesday.

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