(HELENA) A Helena city commissioner wants the city to recommit to the goals in an international agreement on climate change, a week after President Donald Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the accord.
Commissioner Andres Haladay proposed a resolution saying Helena will join more than 200 other cities in the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, supporting continued action to meet the Paris Climate Agreement.
The Paris Agreement calls on countries to reduce carbon emissions, to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.
Commissioners discussed the proposal Wednesday during an administrative meeting.
Haladay’s draft resolution says a warming climate would pose an “urgent threat” to Helena’s environment and economy. In addition, it calls for the city to prepare an annual report on the sustainability measures it’s taking and create a citizen board to recommend and monitor new conservation projects.
“To me, it’s more than feel-good, because it has tangible goals,” said Haladay.
Commissioners agreed to move the proposed resolution forward. They could take a final vote at their meeting on June 26.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, city leaders discussed raising rates for water, sewer and stormwater service in Helena. City staff have proposed increases of between 7 and 15 percent for each utility. That would raise several million dollars a year to pay for large infrastructure improvements.
Commissioners suggested some changes in how the higher rates are applied. In general, they shifted more of the increase to those who use the services more heavily – especially commercial users.
City Manager Ron Alles says even if these increases take effect, Helena’s utility rates will be relatively low compared to other Montana cities.
”I think that’s a good place to be,” Alles said. “We’re not looking to jack rates up unnecessarily, but we do have to keep pace with the major infrastructure that’s required.”
The city commission will consider resolutions of intention to raise the utility rates in late July. They are expected to finalize the new rates in August.