The Helena City Commission created committees this week to oversee sustainability measures related to its adoption of the Paris Climate Accord and to advise subsidized development in the Railroad Urban Renewal Area.

The Citizen Conservation Board was spurred by the resolution adopting the international climate change agreement, the open-ended commitment to reduce carbon emissions. The outline for the board’s structure and function was taken from the city’s 2009 climate change task force action plan.

The board will consist of 14 Helena citizens, including professionals in the health care field, students, conservationists, citizens at large, an Earth science teacher, a member of the Helena Citizens Council, business people and an engineer. Appointments still need to be made for the available positions.

The goal of the board is to provide citizen support, participation in and oversight of greenhouse gas reduction, water conservation and other resource conservation and sustainability measures undertaken by the city of Helena.

The creation of the Tax Increment Financing Advisory Board for the Railroad Urban Renewal Area removed oversight of the TIF from the Business Improvement District, which deals mainly with downtown improvements. It established a board consisting of Railroad URA stakeholders and constituents to provide more personalized oversight of the zone.

The Railroad URA roughly occupies a 10-block-wide area surrounding the train tracks between Last Chance Gulch and Interstate 15.

The Railroad TIF funding is collected from property taxes within the zone, and is used to subsidize approved urban renewal projects within the designated area.

While the advisory board cannot make any binding decisions on the zone, it will make recommendations to the city commission on issues or applications for TIF funding. Nine members represent area businesses, residents, property owners, the 6th Ward Neighborhood Association, Montana Business Assistance Connection, the nonprofit sector, and the school district.

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