By Bay City News Service
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors moved forward Tuesday with a plan for Arizona-based Republic Services to operate the county's Central Landfill and four waste transfer stations.
The county would retain ownership of the landfill on Mecham Road west of Cotati and the transfer stations in Geyserville, Healdsburg, Guerneville and Sonoma. The county's cities, except Petaluma, will be requested to commit their waste to Republic Services for the life of the contract.
Supervisor Shirley Zane said ratepayers will pay 30 to 60 cents more a month for trash collection.
Supervisor Mike McGuire said the agreement is good for taxpayers, the county and its cities.
"What is the alternative?" Board Chair David Rabbitt asked. "It's what we're doing today, hauling our trash out of the county. We need to be environmentally responsible," he said.
Some speakers critical of the plan asked if Republic Services will "cut corners" if they don't realize a projected 13.5 percent profit on its operations, citing Republic Services' fines and environmental violations at its landfills in California and other states.
The Board will take final action on April 23. The $547 million contract with Republic Services is for 20 years. Republic Services will spend $65 million to expand and upgrade the landfill, pay eventual closure and post closure maintenance costs and construct a $5 million material sorting facility.
The county's goal is to divert 80 percent of all waste from disposal in the Central Landfill.
The agreement also would halt hauling the county's waste to a Solano County landfill, thereby reducing truck traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Ratto Group of Companies, which includes the North Bay Corporation, will remain the county's primary waste hauler. Plans at the landfill also include collection of food waste from stores and restaurants and a private compost operation at the Central Landfill.
The landfill was closed in 2005 because of groundwater contamination beneath a lining. The landfill has been operating on an interim basis since 2010, and about half of the county's waste has been hauled to a neighboring landfill in Solano County.
Republic Services said it will find jobs for 15 of the 26 county employees who will be affected by the transfer of operations. The county has kept open positions in the Department of Transportation and Public Works for some of the employees.