The Local Government Interim Committee held their second meeting on September 12 at the Capitol. The committee received educational presentations on many of their committee topics including on-site wastewater treatments systems, subdivision review, entitlement share, and local government budgeting and accounting procedures.

The day began with an update from the Department of Commerce on the Delivering Local Assistance program, a grant program created by HB 652 during the 2019 session. Grant applications will be accepted until September 30, 2019 for local government infrastructure projects in areas affected by impacts of natural resource development or decline.

The committee received an overview of the services and resources offered through the Montana State University Local Government Center and then moved on to their study: SJ3, study of alternative on-site wastewater treatment systems. Staff delivered a presentation detailing the types of systems currently allowed under the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the conditions necessary for various systems to operate successfully. The conversation then turned to the subdivision review process, and the committee learned that DEQ is currently undergoing a comprehensive update of rules related to the Sanitation in Subdivision Act which applies to drinking water, wastewater, and storm water systems in subdivisions. The committee decided to monitor the rule amendment process.

The committee then spent the afternoon learning about local government financial topics. The entitlement share program will be a dominant topic for the committee throughout the interim. In 1999, the Legislature created the Local Government Funding and Structure Committee who worked during the 1999-2000 interim to craft HB 124, later known as “The Big Bill”.  HB 124 created the entitlement share program that changed the way revenues were collected at the local level, remitted to the state, and dispersed back to local governments. A panel of members from the 1999 Local Government Funding and Structure Committee delivered a presentation on the origins of the program, focusing on the subsequent changes to the program over time.

To better understand how local governments manage their finances, the Department of Administration and the Montana Association of Counties presented a budgeting workshop. At its July meeting, the committee also decided to track the implementation of SB 302 and SB 2, two bills that may affect the way local governments report financial information. A representative from the Local Government Services Division of the Department of Administration presented information regarding rule adoption processes currently underway for both bills.

The committee then finalized its work plan for the interim and discussed its upcoming schedule.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for November 12 and 13, 2019 in Helena. For more information visit the committee’s website or contact Toni Henneman, committee staff, at or 406-444-3593.

The Legislative News.