By Ian Lund
In 2021, Helena’s former city manager demoted the City’s part-time sustainability coordinator to the Public Works department. The sustainability coordinator is responsible for city-level decarbonization, identifying operational efficiencies, and helping Helena achieve its 100% clean electricity by 2030 goal. Helena needs an empowered, full-time employee working on these issues. Bozeman and Missoula, which share Helena’s climate goals, each have multiple city employees making meaningful progress on sustainability issues.
In May 2022, MEIC delivered a petition signed by 100 Helena residents, businesses, and organizations to the Helena City Commission as it deliberated over what to include in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The petition asked the Commission to do the following things:
Fund the Sustainability Coordinator as a full-time position in the City’s FY 23 budget.
Reprioritize the position, returning it to the city manager’s office, not burying it deep within the Public Works Department.
When hiring a new city manager (which Helena will do after finalizing the budget), make sustainability and decarbonization efforts part of the job description and interview process.
The Commission reviewed the preliminary FY 23 Budget on Monday, June 6. In the draft budget, the sustainability coordinator position was upgraded from a part-time position to a full-time one, though still housed in the Public Works Department.
The Helena City Commission will hold a public hearing on June 27 at 6:00 pm at which it will receive public comments and may propose amendments for the final budget. If you live in Helena, please contact the city commissioners and ask them to prioritize the sustainability coordinator position
This article was published in the June 2022 issue of Down To Earth.