Meeting Minutes

(Note:  Meeting minutes are always one month behind.  Only approved minutes are published)

Approved at the September 23, 2014 meeting.


Flathead County Solid Waste District
Board of Directors Meeting
August 26, 2014 - 3:00 p.m.
Landfill Office

  • Roll Call

Board Members present: Greg Acton, Chairman; Wayne Miller, Vice Chair; Gary Krueger, County Commissioner; Susan Nicosia, City of Columbia Falls and Hank Olson, City of Kalispell.  Absent:  John Helton, Member at Large and Alan Ruby, Member at Large. 

District Staff present:  Public Works Director Dave Prunty, Operations Manager Jim Chilton and Recording Secretary Deborah Morine. 

Attendees:  Da Benesch, Steve Pendy, Colleen Pendy, Charlotte French, Carly Williams, Lloyd & Faith Brynie, Don Schwennensen, Charles Hubbard, Paul Mutascio, Tom Towle, Stephen & Patty Schnall and Lynnette Hintze.

  • Introductory Remarks from Chairman

Greg Acton welcomed everyone to the meeting.

  • Comments from public

Paul Mutascio – Bigfork:  Appreciates the support of the Solid Waste Board and County Commissioners and is hoping for a positive vote for the land purchase in Bigfork.  He feels the Little Brown Church and the Lone Pine Cemetery could benefit by having the Bigfork Water & Sewer services available once the new Bigfork site is constructed. 

Faith Brynie – Bigfork:  Stated she had brought 778 (online) signatures in support of the new green box site for Bigfork to the Public Meeting on May 29, 2014 and had collected 830 (online) signatures by the time she closed the petition.  There is a lot of support from the community in favor of keeping a container site in Bigfork.  She affirmed that recycling services are currently inadequate at the current site and is concerned that recycling services will be pulled from Bigfork as of January 1, 2015.  She encourages the Board to continue recycling services in Bigfork 

Dan Benesch – Lakeside:  Thanked the Board for listening to the residents of Bigfork and Lakeside. The Lakeside Council is willing to work with the Board to help keep and improve the Lakeside container site. 

Don Schwennensen – Bigfork:  Thanked the Board for working with the Bigfork community.  He works at Partner’s West Realty which is located across the highway from the proposed site and said the location doesn’t bother him.  

Tom Towle – Bigfork:  Stated he has concerns with potential odors, but the proposed location looks good to him.

  • Program Updates from Non-Profits

There were no updates.

  • Approval of the Board Meeting Minutes for July 22, 2014 – Action Required

Hank Olson moved to adopt the minutes of July 22, 2014 meeting.  Wayne Miller seconded.  Motion passed.

  • Action Agenda
    • Bigfork Container Site Relocation – Action Required 

The public meeting in Bigfork regarding the possible purchase of land and construction of a new container site occurred on August 12th at the Bethany Lutheran Church.  Eighty (80) signatures were on the sign in sheet but some attendees did not sign in.  Twenty-seven (27) citizens voiced an opinion with 16 supporting the proposal, eight against the project and three were “on the fence” as best as could be determined.  Previous to this meeting the sizeable volume of comments received by the District overwhelmingly supported the need to keep a container site in the Bigfork area and many of those comments included statements regarding paying more for the service if that was needed.  It is staffs opinion that many of the concerned comments received at the meeting can be mitigated with the design of the site and operationally with staffing to help police and operate the facility. 

The Commissioners are responsible for the decision whether to proceed forward with the land purchase.  The Solid Waste Board should make a recommendation to the Commission as to their opinion of proceeding forward on the purchase or declining the purchase. 

Hank Olson moved to recommend to the County Commissioners to proceed forward with the purchase of the five acres of land from Tim Calaway for the construction of a new Bigfork Container Site.  Susan Nicosia seconded.   

Wayne Miller stated that the Board has heard from the community and they believe the container site to be an essential service and asset for the Bigfork area.  Susan Nicosia concurs.   

Hank Olson stated the community is in favor, but those who live near are not in favor and he hates to devaluate people’s property.  He is going to vote no as he is bothered by the proposed location. He asked whether there will be donations from the Bigfork community to help fund the project.  

Dave Prunty stated there have been offers of donated trees and possible funds to help with the infrastructure of the site, but nothing is settled at this point. 

There were general discussions regarding when the special improvement fee would be added to the tax rolls, the Highway Department’s role in determining traffic (turn lanes) ingress/egress, staffing the site, etc. 

Greg Acton called for a vote:  Gary Krueger abstained, Susan Nicosia, aye; Wayne Miller, aye; Hank Olson, nay; Greg Acton, aye.  Motion passed.

    • Award Bid for Recycling Program Improvements and Attendant Facilities – Action Required 

Bids were received from two contractors for the construction of the recycling program infrastructure and attendant facilities at the Landfill and the Creston and Somers container sites.  The bids are shown below: 

Bidder                                                                             Bid

La Salle Sand and Gravel                                          $179,950

LHC                                                                         $215,810 

The above cost includes the construction of the three concrete pads, two sheds for the attendants, electrical improvements, site work (grading, gravel import/placement), fencing and asphalt approach improvements among other construction incidentals needed for the project.  The three new compactors purchase price is $76,574 and the recycling bins will cost $49,950 (six bins plus freight).  The cardboard overflow bins for the compactor are $4,000 and the engineering for the project is $31,069.  This totals $341,543.  We also included a 10% contingency to take the final expense to $375,700. 

The budget for this project is $209,180 for a budget shortfall of $132,363 without contingency.  We under estimated the expense of the site work above and failed to account for the engineering expense during the budgeting process.  Please see the bid evaluation and recommendation from our engineer, 48 North P.C.  We have discussed the budget shortfall with the Commissioners and have made an adjustment to our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to account for this increased expense.  The final budget has not been approved yet and the Commissioners recently had a budget workshop so we were able to make this change prior to budget adoption.  There is available cash reserves from the increase in revenue received during FY14.  This mainly is from the MDT project in Whitefish which generated significant increased gate revenue last year (approx. $700,000). 

To meet our construction deadline of October 31, 2014 the Board should also authorize the Public Works Director to execute the contract when all required submittals (contract, bonds insurance) from the contractor are provided. 

Hank Olson moved to award the bid for the Recycling Compactor Infrastructure and Attendant Facilities to La Salle Sand and Gravel for $179,950 and authorize the Public Works Director to execute the contract documents.  Susan Nicosia seconded.  Motion passed.

Susan Nicosia asked if an engineer’s estimate has been prepared.  Dave stated there had not been an estimate prepared for this project.

  • Director’s Report
    • Revisions to Chapter 5 of the Strategic Report for the Flathead County Landfill  

Progress on this project has been delayed due to the staff’s time on the construction work on the landfill liner project and recycling infrastructure project.  We’d like to kick off the public input questionnaire as soon as possible.  Jim’s time has been consumed with these projects along with the operations but we hope there is time in the immediate future to secure the final polling locations in the south end of the County and begin this part of the project. 

Jim stated that the survey will take place during the first two weeks of September.

    • Lakeside Container Site 

Staff received a letter from the Montana Department of Transportation – Real Estate Division informing us they had received our letter requesting to purchase or secure a larger parcel of land at the current Lakeside Container Site.  As is their policy our letter was placed in the queue in the order it was received.  They will contact us when our letter gets to the “top of the pile”.  In the past this has been months before we hear from them.  We hope to continue moving forward on this site with a goal of constructing an improved site next summer but there remain many facets of the project outside of our control.  There also is the question of what type of dialogue/meetings we would have in the Lakeside community.

    • Recycling Program and Infrastructure Improvements 

The last work task for this new program will be to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide the hauling and processing of the recyclables from the three container sites (Columbia Falls, Creston and Somers) and the Landfill.  Staff has discussed this project with our engineer, SWT, and we believe we can easily modify the RFP we issued last year for the old recycling program. 

There are a couple of decisions to be made regarding the duration of the hauling/processing contract and the revenue from the material.  Our maximum length for a contract is five years by County policy.  We can increase that with Commissioners approval.  However, with the change in the infrastructure for the program (we now will own the bins and compactors) it may be advantageous for this first contract to reduce the term to see how the program operates.  Staff has discussed a two year contract with a one year extension if agreeable to both parties.  Our potential bidders should have the trucks currently for their other work so there should be very little capital expenditure on their part to be our vendor.  We have configured the bins to fit on the roll off trucks currently used by the haulers in the County. 

Secondly, the revenue on the sale of the commodities can be all received by the District, have some level of sharing between the District and contractor or the contractor receives all of it.  In the current program the District has been receiving all of it.  Staff has discussed the idea of the contractor receiving all of the revenue or sharing it 50/50.  There are positives and negatives on all options.  We have not had multiple bidders on this work for the last two contracts.  We hope to change that with our new program.  Knowing that staff believes it may be best to have a 50/50 split with this new contract.  This would incentivize the contractor to maximize revenue of the commodities.  If we allow the contractor to receive all of the revenue and have only one bidder they may not value the commodities at any level and therefore, not reduce their hauling expense for the revenue received. 

Staff is interested in any ideas the Board may have on this issue. 

Discussions included the fact there are no guarantee of volume of recyclables and how long  a contract should be offered.   

Susan Nicosia stated that in our location recycling is not profitable and while recycling should be part of our community, the bottom line it’s costing the District a lot of money. Currently, the public’s perception is that government should supplement the recycling costs when in fact recycling is a public issue, not a Solid Waste issue.  

Gary Krueger stated there is a business in Kalispell (Pacific Steel & Recycling) that is making a profit from recycling because they manage it as a business.  People bring their recycling to one location.  He further commented that by creating gated and staffed container sites, it will divert lumber and other unacceptable items at the sites and hopefully, those items would be repurposed by giving the generator incentive to find another use for them. 

Discussions included keeping recycling within budgetary constraints and provide service with minimal financial impact to the District.  By reconfiguring the Request for Proposal (RFP) to broaden the parameters which may result in receiving more bids and creating new protocols in how the system could be run.  The District is open to changing how it’s done.  

Dave Prunty stated he hopes to have a draft RFP available at the next board meeting.  

    • Construction of Phase IV B Groundwater Protection System 

Sandry Construction has continued work on the Phase IVB liner.  They are currently installing the sub drain line under the liner and preparing the slopes for the synthetic liner.  During the minimal rains we have received it was noticed that water was weeping out of the side slopes of the subgrade on the north and west slopes.  This causes an issue with the stability and integrity of the geosynthetic clay liner (GCL).  Our engineer, SWT, needed to make a design change and add another synthetic layer below the GCL to drain this water.  This also caused the need to install more sub drain line around the toe of the sidewalls.  We also had them install some drainage features between Phase 4A and B to help us minimize the amount of storm water that will run into the new liner area so we can reduce our volume of leachate that will be produced.  A change order was issued to Sandry for this work.  The total cost for this is $114,000.  In the bid schedule there is a T & M line item at $140,000.  We have $26,000 remaining in the line item.  A letter was sent to Mr. Tim Stepp, MT Department of Environmental Quality, informing him of this design change.  Tim reviews and approves our design and also the final construction report so it is important to inform him of this kind of design issue as the project proceeds forward.

    • Refuse Operations 

Operations proceeded well for the month.  Tonnage/Volumes are shown below:


                            Total MSW to landfill                                     10,859.72

                            Total Appliances Collected                              549

                            Junk Vehicles Collected                                   0

                            Truck Trips to Container Sites                         461

                            Refuse tons/trip                                               7.65 

The District landfilled 2.4% more waste in July, 2014 as compared to July, 2013 and our refuse trucks hauled 6.4% more waste comparing the same time frame. 

Gate revenue for fiscal year 2014 was projected at $800,000, and was revised in April, 2014 to $1,550,000 at the direction of the Finance Department.  Through May we have received $1,408,301 or 90.7% of revenue through 92% of the fiscal year.  This increase in gate revenue is attributable to the Montana Department of Transportation project in Whitefish which generated a sizeable volume of contaminated soils brought to the landfill.  We don’t have June or July financials yet due to the close of the fiscal year.

    • Budget and Financials 

There was no budget or financials to discuss at this time.

  • Comments from Board Members

Wayne Miller commented that people (at the August 12 public meeting) were complaining the proposed site was near churches and the potential odors the site might cause.  He stated that he’s not smelled anything at any of the container sites.   He would also like to discuss the (recycle) haulers responsibility for keeping the area around the (recycle) containers clean and picked up in a timely manner.  

Dave Prunty explained that the recycle containers are picked up within 24 hours of calling them in but since the recycling facility isn’t open on Saturday or Sunday those days appear to have the worst problems associated with any overflow situations.

  • Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.