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Trash is dumped into a pit at Lewis and Clark County Landfill in 2014. County commissioners approved an interlocal agreement Thursday to accept municipal solid waste from Broadwater County, which previously had a contract with private hauler Tri County Disposal of Helena.

Lewis and Clark County commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with Broadwater County Thursday allowing municipal solid waste to be hauled from Broadwater to the Lewis and Clark County Landfill.

Effective from late December through June 2021, the agreement is expected to bring 4,700 tons of municipal solid waste annually to the county landfill on Deal Lane in Helena. Assistant Director Audra Zacherl of the Lewis and Clark County Public Works Department said this increased intake will allow tipping fees to fall from $28 to $26 per ton for all clients of the Lewis and Clark County Landfill.  

Tipping fees fully fund the landfill’s operation. The lower fees at the landfill, Zacherl said, will allow the Helena transfer station on North Benton Avenue to lower their tipping fees, as well.

In a Thursday memo to the commission, Zacherl estimated Scratchgravel Solid Waste District residents will save an accumulated $81,625 and City of Helena residents an accumulated $186,000 in transfer station tipping fees over the course of the agreement.

A 2014 efficiency study recommended that Lewis and Clark County Landfill seek to accept waste from other counties to maximize airspace potential. The county landfill is licensed to accept waste from Helena, East Helena, the Scratchgravel Solid Waste District and Jefferson and Broadwater counties. Broadwater County approached Lewis and Clark Public Works about an interlocal agreement as the county’s contract with private hauler Tri County Disposal of Helena reached expiration.

Attorney Stefan Wall spoke at Thursday’s meeting on behalf of Tri County Disposal. Wall opened by telling commissioners that Tri County’s contract with Broadwater County actually included a $27 tipping fee per ton for the previous year while the interlocal agreement was negotiated. The memo Zacherl issued to commissioners named a figure of $29 per ton for the past five years and estimated that Broadwater residents would save an accumulated $35,000 with Lewis and Clark County’s tipping fees.

Wall went on to say that Tri County welcomed the reduction of tipping fees and intended to lower its fees in East Helena and Jefferson County accordingly, should the agreement be passed.

“The issue for Tri County as it relates to this interlocal agreement,” Wall said, “is that it can’t now pass those savings on tipping fees on to its customers. And I think this is where Lewis and Clark County and Tri County’s interests will overlap."

Zacherl clarified that Broadwater residents can haul waste to transfer sites, from which the waste will be transported to Lewis and Clark County. Zacherl said that Broadwater residents also pay a flat assessment for solid waste services, as is the case with Helena and Scratchgravel district residents.

Landfill manager Pete Anderson said the Lewis and Clark landfill’s most recent compaction density study found that it has more than 100 years of life expectancy remaining on its current 80 acres. When the landfill was established in 1994, Anderson said, it was expected to last 25 to 50 years.

Lewis and Clark County owns a further 160 acres that can be developed for landfill if necessary, Anderson said.

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