City Council Approves Trash Fee Increase

Residents will see a 33 cent or 55 cent increase in their January bill.

City of Sonoma residents will see a slight increase in their trash bill in January. The city council on Monday approved a rate hike of 4.59 percent for Sonoma Garbage Company (SGC). The increase is expected to produce a combined rate increase for the typical residential customer with a 32-gallon container of $.55 per month or $.33 per month for a 20-gallon container. 

The fee raise is needed to cover an annual increase in tipping fees at Sonoma County Central Landfill. The less costly option of hauling to the Napa Transfer station expires this month. The rate hike also will cover an ongoing SGC program of commercial food waste collection for composting.

Sonoma's composting program is offered to business customers at no additional charge over the collection service cost. SGC has provided the pilot program to businesses that generate food waste such as restaurants, grocery stores, inns, etc.

The city is on the forefront of the composting program, though other cities in Sonoma county and elsewhere are gearing up for it, SGC spokesman Ken Wells told Patch on Monday.

At Monday night's meeting, Wells told councilmembers the pilot project has been well-received by commercial establishments over the past year. About two dozen businesses are using it, he said.

"So that's more than 10 percent of the customers," he said. "There's not much economic advantage to them; they do it more because they believe in it. "

Sonoma Market is the biggest customer, Wells said. Most of the businesses just recycle vegetative waste which goes to Sonoma Transfer Station, but Sonoma Market includes dairy products too, so their waste goes to the Napa facility, he said.

"The vegetative waste is consolidated with other materials and taken to the central landfill, where it's turned into products to put on our farms and landscapes," Wells said. "It’s really inexpensive – about $15 for a pickup truck or you can get bags but you have to fill them yourself. All cities get free mulch and compost and the schools gets free compost from Sonoma Compost from this program."

One resident complained at the meeting that Sonoma residents shouldn't all have to pay for the services if they're not using them. But Wells said only the commercial customers pay for the offered service, not residential.

The city council unanimously passed the rate hike, saying Sonoma is the only city in the county to have its own garbage disposal company and that the city is lucky to have it.

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