Meeting Minutes

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

Approved at the April 1, 2014 meeting 

Flathead County Solid Waste District
Board of Directors Meeting
February 25, 2014 - 3:00 p.m.
Landfill Office

  • Roll Call

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

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

Attendees:  Scott Mason, Mayre Flowers, Karen Reeves, Matt Williams, TeYang Soong, Mike Cullinane and Carl Cortez.

  • Introductory Remarks from Chairman

Greg Acton stated that he enjoyed the Bioreactor presentation at the Earl Bennett Building earlier that morning and also noted that Alan Ruby was absent.

  • Comments from public

There were no comments from the public.

  • Program Updates from Non-Profits

Mayre Flowers distributed an updated recycle brochure to the Board.  She stated it reflects the changes of drop-off sites and includes a highlighted section to help educate the public as to which plastics are recyclable in the Flathead.

Mayre said that the community recycling bins were in use at the recent Pond Hockey event and the Creston Auction has inquired about using them at their next event as well.    

Mayre asked Dave to update the Board on the recent decision by the County Commissioner regarding touring of county facilities.  Dave stated that as of last week, the Commissioners and County Attorney have decided because of liability and safety issues, there will no longer be public tours of county facilities.  Dave said Mayre is looking into doing school presentations at the Flathead Valley Community College campus as a substitute for the school landfill tours.  He also suggested Power Point Presentations and / or video tour as substitutes for actual tours.  Gary Krueger said that the Commissioners decided that liability and safety concerns were paramount to their decision.  

There were general discussions regarding tours being eliminated for adult groups such as the Ornithology group, Kiwanis, Garden Club, etc. as well as tours of the Landfill Gas to Energy plant.  Discussions regarding liability extended to the green box sites and the need to gain better control over improper use.   

Susan Nicosia stated she had been on several of the school tours with her children, learned quite a bit, and hadn’t observed anything risky.  Greg also doesn’t think it makes sense to eliminate tours.  Mayre stated she will be working to adapt.

  • Bioreactor Workshop Presentation

Matt Williams, Environmental Services Director for St. Clair County, Michigan gave an overview of their Septage Bioreactor which is service at the Smiths Creek Landfill.  Ric Thompson, MT DEQ Solid Waste Director and Brian Spangler, MT DEQ Air, Energy and Pollution Prevention Bureau were conferenced in on speaker phone for this presentation.

  • Approval of the Board Meeting Minutes for January 28, 2014 – Action Required

Wayne Miller moved to approve the minutes of January 28, 2014.  John Helton seconded.  Motion passed.

  • Action Agenda
    • Election of Chair and Vice-Chair for 2014 – Action Required 

The District’s By-Laws require the election of a Chair and Vice-Chair in January or February each year.  The item was postponed for action at the January meeting. 

John Helton nominated Greg Acton as Chairman.  Wayne Miller moved to close the nomination for Chairman.  Susan Nicosia seconded.   

Gary Krueger nominated Wayne Miller as Vice-Chairman.  John Helton moved to close the nomination for Vice-Chairman.  Susan Nicosia seconded.

Motion(s) passed.

    • Award of Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Groundwater Monitoring Program – Action Required 

The District solicited Requests for Qualifications from qualified firms to provide groundwater monitoring services and other related activities.  Hydrometrics, Inc. was the only respondent.  They have had the contract for the last seven years and have performed their services exceptionally well.  Their team performing the work is proposed to be the same as the previous contract, including utilizing Energy Labs in Billings to analyze the groundwater samples. 

Our review team consisted of Greg Acton, Mark Campbell (Fair Manager), Jim Chilton and Dave.  All four scored the consultant very well and recommend awarding the RFQ to Hydrometrics.  If the Board agrees, staff will begin negotiations with them and return at the next board meeting with a contract for signature, assuming an acceptable outcome to our negotiations. 

John Helton moved to award the Groundwater Monitoring RFQ to Hydrometrics and authorize the Public Works Director to begin negotiations on a five year contract for their services.  Susan Nicosia seconded.  Motion passed.

    • Rescheduling of March Board Meeting – Action Required 

Staff has conflicts with the regularly scheduled March 25, 2014 meeting of the Solid Waste Board of Directors.  As discussed at our January meeting staff is requesting the Board move the meeting to April 1, 2014 at 3 p.m. at the landfill office.  The regularly scheduled April meeting will still occur on April 22, 2014. 

Susan Nicosia moved to change the March 25, 2014 meeting of the Flathead County Solid Waste District Board of Directors to April 1, 2014 at 3 p.m. at the landfill office. Wayne Miller seconded.  Motion passed.

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

Staff has continued to work with the consultants on preparing the Scope of Work for the revisions to the hauling section within the Strategic Plan.  Due to scheduling and content issues we haven’t received the final version of the Scope as staff had hoped.  We believe it will be coming shortly and will be shared immediately via email with the Board.  There have been multiple iterations to make sure we get the Scope exactly as we need it to assess all the facets that have been discussed. 

One of the major issues that we’ll need to analyze is the availability of properly sited land that can be licensed and utilized in a solid waste operation and where that land is located in relationship to our customers.  The Commissioners are interested in making sure that we exhaust the search for viable land that can be used as container sites.  Staff also has the desire to look to the future beyond the use of the container sites to the next logical progression in the movement of solid waste to the landfill.  These parcels would make sense to be one in the same, if at all possible, or at least the possibility to secure more land adjacent to any current large scale container site.  An “if this is done, then this happens” scheme is what we have been working on with the consultants.  If land is unavailable, or not suitable in size, then consolidation of the system is highly likely.  If land is available then the discussion becomes one of economics of purchase, construction and operations and the District must decide to what level we should operate the site.  This could include having a site that is open fewer days in the week, as compared to our current seven days, to help in minimizing expenses to all the rate payers. 

Mike Cullinane with SWT Engineering is at the board meeting and available to discuss any issues with the Board regarding this project.  Initial expenses for this work might be in the $50k to $60k range but needs to be refined when the scope is finalized.  This work has not been budgeted for the current fiscal year.  There are a couple of options available if we wish to proceed immediately.  The first is to request a budget amendment and utilize cash reserves which we have available.  The second is to delay the work until the next fiscal year (July 1) and budget accordingly. 

Mike Cullinane addressed the Board and reiterated that the Strategic Plan is a living document revisions are imminent. Discussions included obtaining community feedback to address issues that have arisen from the original Strategic Plan as well as a stakeholders meeting for input before the revision is completed.  Wayne asked about the time frame for the revision.  Mike stated it will take 3-4 months.   

Wayne also stated that the Board minutes should reflect that the Bigfork citizen work group was given until the end of January 2014 to come up with an alternative scenario for garbage collection / site.  The Board agrees that this issue will be revisited after the revision of the Strategic Plan.  

Discussions also included how staffing the container sites improve operations by reducing prohibited items being dumped at those sites. 

    • Bigfork Container Site 

There has not been any activity with the Bigfork citizens group since the last meeting.  At this point with the pending work on the Strategic Plan discussed above there isn’t any activity that is contemplated for this site, unless some other direction was provided by the Board and the Commissioners. 

The Board agreed to revisit this issue after the revision of the Strategic Plan.

    • DEQ Approval for Green Waste Material as Alternative Daily Cover 

The District has been using green waste material (GM) as alternative daily cover (ADC) for the last 15 years or so.  Last year the DEQ informed us they had concerns about our utilizing it for more than six continuous days as required in the solid waste regulations.  Staff proposed to submit and perform a demonstration project to the DEQ proving the ability of this material to provide adequate cover for solid waste while meeting the regulations of using soil.  Both SWT Engineering and Hydrometrics helped the District prepare the demonstration project guidelines, monitor the project and submit the final report. 

Without this work our airspace utilization that we monitor each year would have greatly diminished with the use of soil instead of the GW material.  DEQ was also very appreciative of this work since they understand the value of our airspace and want to see beneficial uses for material instead of landfilling as refuse.  Other jurisdictions in the state use the material in the same manner as we do and are closely watching the outcome of our demonstration project. 

DEQ has approved our program and allowed us to use GW material for cover up to 30 days before we are required to use soil for covering the waste that day.  This will help us continue utilizing the lined airspace as efficiently as possible to maximize the airspace for refuse.

    • Landfill Expansion Property Acquisition 

We have closed on seven properties in the landfill expansion area.  The seven properties are:  Rathbun ($248k), Sweet ($245k), Hunt ($265k), Sullivan ($290k), Puryer ($191k), Farrell ($220k) and Donk/Olson ($280k).  A map is included in the packet showing these properties.  The Hedstrom property ($250k) received their appraisal and has requested a copy of the buy/sell contract again so they can review it with their attorney.  Staff was informed by the Hook’s that unless we would be able to match the land value given to the Farrell property adjacent to their property they would not be selling to the District at this point.  We currently have spent approximately $1.8 million of the $2 million budgeted this year.

    • Landfill Liner Installation Project 

SWT Engineering has prepared the plans and specifications for the installation of the Phase 4B liner project this summer.  This is the final liner installation for the North Area Landfill.  A pre-bid job walk is scheduled for February 26 at 1 p.m. with bids due on March 21st at 3 p.m.  Barring some unforeseen issue staff will have an award recommendation at the April 1st meeting.

    • Preparation of Fiscal Year 2014/2015 Solid Waste and Junk Vehicle Budget


The County has started the budget process for the coming fiscal year.  We will plan on presenting the preliminary budget to the Board at the April 1st meeting and then have it on the action agenda for final recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at the April 22 meeting.  The general direction from the County is to “hold the line” on expenses as has been done the previous few years due to the recession.  However, we will be seeing an increase in our expenses due to the liner installation project planned for this summer and the continuation of possible property purchase(s).  We also will be requesting a FTE increase due to our needed staffing and operation of the recycle program at the container sites.

    • Refuse Operations


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


              Total MSW to landfill                                                 6,474.72

                            Total Appliances Collected                                       329

                            Junk Vehicles Collected                               0

              Truck Trips to Container Sites                                  408

              Refuse tons/trip                                             6.26


The District landfilled 2.4% more waste in January, 2014 as compared to January, 2013 and our refuse trucks hauled 5.8% more waste comparing the same time frame. 

Gate revenue for fiscal year 2014 was projected at $800,000.  Through January we have received $1,128,984.77 or 141.12% of revenue through 58% 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. 

Jim Chilton stated because of excessive snow, the new Essex site will not be opening by April.  He hopes the snow will be melted enough for a May opening.  The appliances are being crushed and hauled away and the District will be paid $171.50 per ton. The landfill is accepting ash from the Stoltz Co-Gen plant and it is being used as cover.

    • Budget and Financials

Dave reviewed the Budget and Financials with the Board

  • Comments from Board Members

Wayne Miller stated he talked with Sheriff Curry and was told that officers are patrolling the container site and counseling and advising people regarding covering their loads.  

John Helton complimented staff on the 2013 Solid Waste Report.  He also suggested that the stakeholders should be asked: “which 5 days would you like the sites open”?  Dave Prunty stated he would like to have the landfill and gated container sites closed on some of the county holidays.

 Gary Krueger asked Dave to prepare a spreadsheet with tonnages from the last 5 years of observed holidays for the landfill and what has been hauled from the container sites on these days. 

Susan Nicosia reminded Dave that Columbia Falls would like staff to review and possibly adjust the hours of operation at the container site.

  • Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 5:12 p.m.