Tri County Disposal, located on York Road, services East Helena as well as Broadwater and Jefferson counties.

The manager of the Helena business that has provided Broadwater County's landfill for 18 years is crying foul after Lewis and Clark County submitted a more competitive bid for the contract. 

In response to Broadwater County's latest request for proposals from entities that can provide a landfill for garbage, Tri County Disposal submitted a bid of $29 and Lewis and Clark County provided a bid of $26 per ton. The Broadwater County Commission plans to select one of the bids during a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. 

Dave Duffy has been Tri County’s general manager for the last decade and has contracts in Broadwater, Jefferson, Powell and Lewis and Clark counties. He said he is upset both as a business manager and as a Lewis and Clark County resident, arguing the county has an unfair advantage. 

“I don’t think (Lewis and Clark County) should compete with us if they’re not being taxed or assessed,” Duffy said.

He believes the RFP process should provide “the best assessments they can buy. ... But taking business from private owners? I think that’s out of line.”

Cary Hegreberg, executive director of the Montana Contractor’s Association, said construction companies have similar concerns about local governments bidding against private companies.

“Local government should be doing the best job possible for taxpayers,” Hegreberg said.

And in his opinion, that means they should contract with private businesses.

“They can do it better and cheaper than local government,” Hegreberg said.

Lewis and Clark County’s Chief Administrative Officer, Roger Baltz, said the county submitted a bid because of a 2015 efficiency study that suggested the county should “actively seek out of county waste” as the county had “available airspace” to add more solid waste.

Baltz also said the lower rate was suggested after analysis by Public Works staff at the landfill. If Broadwater County accepts the proposed rate, he said, it would apply to all Lewis and Clark County landfill users.

Tri County has also raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving a Lewis and Clark County landfill employee who also served on the Solid Waste Board in Broadwater County. 

Tri County’s lawyer, Jack Connors of the Doney Crowley law firm in Helena, said they have “serious legal questions to what happened” in the RFP process. “We’re concerned a Lewis and Clark employee at the landfill has been involved in the (Broadwater County) Solid Waste Board’s process,” Connors said.

Baltz said county officials were aware of the situation. 

“It was brought to our attention,” Baltz said.

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Crime and Health Reporter

Crime and health reporter for the Helena Independent Record.

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