Sunday, October 19, 2014

Upcoming Opportunities to Improve Efficiency, Service and Recycling by Public Entities and Facilities in Helena


I submitted the following document to the Helena City Commission and city staff regarding recycling last Wednesday at an administrative meeting. As I write here, our community has a great opportunity to improve efficiency, increase recycling, and address household hazardous waste.  This direction is fiscally and environmentally responsible; it meets the promises made when the transfer station and landfill were established.  

The final "Operational Efficiency Study of Solid Waste System" is not yet available. However, the "short-term" items listed below are improvements that can be implemented in coming months and guided by the final study.  The recommendations are based on the draft report, long standing and recent city commission discussions and meetings, your suggestions, and my experience in the recycling field.  I suspect the primary recommendation by city and county staff will be to pursue new political and fiscal structures for the current waste utilities, the transfer station, and public landfill. Such an exploration, if it is indeed warranted, should not delay implementing the concepts below and exploring the additional items outlined here

I proposed the City join this study nearly a year ago, in part to prevent plans by city staff at the executive level to spend a million dollars on capital projects that were not needed. The projects did not include looking at improved recycling, additional waste diversion, or addressing household hazardous waste.  The draft report validates concerns raised that the projects were not needed. Thankfully, the projects were not build and the funds remain available for investment in improved services for Helena. 


- Matt E

Matthew Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA
316 N Park, 59625

[ Start Document Text]

Recycling and efficiency improvements at the City of Helena Transfer Station and Lewis & Clark County Landfill:


1.  Allow Scratch Gravel Solid Waste District permit holders to replace lost permits at the transfer station, charge a convenience fee if necessary.

2.  Establish trial winter hours at the transfer station that may include closing one day a week (Monday for example) and limiting hours on other days (10a.m. to 4:45p.m., two hours less, on Sundays for example).

Distributed to the City of Helena Commission and city staff
by Commissioner Elsaesser at October 15, 2014, at a
City of Helena administrative meeting. Click to view.
3.  Allow the landfill to close on weekends during winter, either Saturday or Sunday or both days, unless transfer station makes an appointment for the landfill weekend during the business week.

4.  Extend the default replacement cycle for all trucks and equipment based on savings seen by extending the life of the city residential fleet and deferred replacement of landfill equipment outlined in the draft solid waste efficiency study.

5.  Consolidate recycling area to allow recycling common items from one parking area, add shelter for staff and recyclers, and evaluate using an automated compactor for cardboard. [details and examples posted here here]

click on link below for full post containing this graphic
Image from recent post

6.  Cancel additional shop and expanded contractor bays at transfer station [discussed here]. 

7.  Charge tipping fee for bio-solids to cover costs of composting program.

8.  Reimburse recycling program for motor oil used for heating based on market rate.


1. Evaluate RFP’s for various levels of recycling services at the transfer station, a modified blue bag program, and full-service or partnerships with curbside service.

2. Setup unloading areas separate from tipping floor for trailers of heavy C & D waste, soft fill, and non-dumping trailers.

3. Establish a point system for residential customers to replace tonnage quota to allow accounting for higher cost disposal items such as electronic and household hazardous waste.

4. Approach Scratch Gravel/County regarding a renter permit for recycling similar to city’s renter recycling permit.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Powerful stories featuring Montana Legend Jason DeShaw

[Email from my great friend Jason DeShaw]


Here is a news piece that came out this week on mental illness and suicide that I was a part of. I hope this finds you well.

[More about Jason at]

Helena City Commission DRAFT Agenda for Wednesday, October 15: Major Budget Items to be Acted On

The Helena City Commission will discuss and set direction for several major budget items this Wednesday. This will include the dedication of half a million dollars of gas tax revenue for road projects (item 5a-public works), the disposition of $1.89 million dollars in revenue for a tax settlement with telecommunication companies (item 5a-admin services), and exploring next steps to fund accessible walking and biking infrastructure in Helena. 

DRAFT Agenda:

In regards to the use of one time funds from the recent tax settlement, I will be supporting the funding of a railroad quiet zone, a pedestrian bridge over Henderson near the rail underpass, a capital fund to match grants, funds for emergency services, and a conservation fund to help setup a voluntary district for residents to invest in alternative energy and water conservation. I also look forward to proposals from other commissioners and your suggestions. 

For the use of gas tax funds, I hope the Commission will support funding safety improvements and green storm water management along Front Street to compliment a million dollar plus project by other city utilities (details and pictures here), as well as establishing a four-way stop at Joslyn, Leslie and Country Club.

- Matt E

Matthew Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Lewis & Clark County Commission is seeking interested citizens to serve on the following boards:




The Lewis & Clark County Commission is seeking interested citizens to serve 
on the following boards:

Augusta Solid Waste Management District

Two Citizens to serve on the Augusta Solid Waste Management District Board; 
3 year term. Applicants must reside within the boundaries of the Augusta 
Stolid Waste Management District.

City-County Consolidated Planning Board

Three citizens to serve on the City-County Consolidated Planning Board. The 
purpose of the board is to ensure the promotion of public health, safety, 
morals, convenience, order and general welfare for the sake of efficiency 
and economy in the process of community development; 3 year term.

City-County Library Board

One citizen to serve on the City-County Library Board. The board is 
responsible for hiring staff and setting policy for the library; 5 year 

Fair Board
One citizen to serve on the Fair Board. The board generally oversees the 
overall management and operation of the fairgrounds for Lewis and Clark 
County; 4 year term.

Forestvale Historic Preservation Committee

Two citizens to serve on the Forestvale Historic Preservation Committee who 
reside within Forestvale Cemetery District; generally described as School 
Dist. No 1; 3 year term. This board reviews and approves development 
proposals related to the Forestvale Cemetery and are responsible for 
assuring compliance will all relevant local, state and federal regulations 
and requirements pertaining to the Cemetery’s designation on the Federal 
Register or History Sites.

Investment Committee

One citizen to serve on the Investment Committee who makes recommendations 
to the Board of County Commissioners with regard to investing the financial 
assets of all funds of the County and all other participants in the County 
Investment Pool Program; 3 year term.

Lincoln Solid Waste District Board

One citizen to serve on the Lincoln Solid Waste District Board who owns 
residential or commercial property and pays the Lincoln Solid Waste 
assessment; 3 year term.

Mental Health Local Advisory Council

Two citizens to serve on the Mental Health Local Advisory Council who are 
consumers of mental health services. The council assists in the improvement 
of public mental health services in the local community; 2 year and 3 year 

Mosquito District – Craig

Two citizens to serve on the Craig Mosquito District Board who reside in the 
district limits. This board develops and administers a program for abatement 
and alleviation on mosquito pest conditions within the district and makes 
recommendations on appropriations and expenditure of funds to be levied on 
residents in the district; 4 year term.

Mosquito District – Helena Valley

One citizen to serve on the Helena Valley Mosquito District Board who 
resides in the district limits. This board develops and administers a 
program for abatement and alleviation on mosquito pest conditions within the 
district and makes recommendations on appropriations and expenditure of 
funds to be levied on residents in the district; 4 year term.

Open Lands Citizens Advisory Council

Five citizens to serve on the Open Lands Citizens Advisory Council. The 
primary purpose of the Program is to conserve resources on private lands in 
Lewis and Clark County that fulfill the objectives of the bond measure. The 
BOCC appointed the Citizens Advisory Committee on Open Lands (CAC) to make 
recommendations on project applications.

Planning & Zoning Commission

One citizen to serve on the Planning & Zoning Commission whom resides within 
an existing citizen-initiated Special Zoning District within Lewis and Clark 
County (SZD#45). This board shall perform issues dealing with zoning 
functions for the County; 3 year terms.

Scratchgravel Solid Waste District Board

One citizen to serve on the Scratchgravel Solid Waste District Board who 
resides in the SGSW Landfill District; 4 year term.

STOP DUI Task Force

Seven citizens to serve on the STOP DUI Task Force. The Task Force provides 
a link between individuals, agencies and organization interested in reducing 
the number of DUI crashes in the county. The Task Force provides information and funding for the study and recommendation of programs for the prevention, reduction, and education of 
the public on the dangers of DUI’s; 2 year term.

Weed Board
Five citizens to serve on the Weed Board. The board administers the district’s 
noxious weed program by establishing management criteria for noxious weed on 
all lands within the district; 3 year term.

Applications are available at or by 
calling 447-8304 and can be submitted to the Commissioner’s Office, 316 N. 
Park Ave., Rm. 345, Helena, MT 59623. All positions open until filled.