If you, as a business owner, haven’t already received a letter, you will shortly, from the Northern Montana Joint Refuse Disposal District (NMJRDD).
   In it, according to the NMJRDD, Conrad has been under assessed by 14 percent and that amount will be made up by the businesses on the 2009 tax statements.
   The NMJRDD tracks the amount of garbage that is produced within the city limits of each community and compares the tonnage with the number of assessments in each town.
   The annual tonnage for Choteau was 1,220 tons; they are assessed 1,254 units, meaning they are over assessed by three percent.
   Conrad produced 1,866 tons of garbage and is assessed 1,606 units, an under assessment of 14 percent.
   Cut Bank produced 2,729 tons and has 2,760 units assessed, a one percent assessment overage.
   According to the NMJRDD, national industry standards show that the average household produces one half a cubic yard (about 95 gallons or 38.5 pounds) of garbage a week, which converts to 26 yards or one ton of garbage per year.
   Based on these standards, each home in the landfill district is assessed one unit.
   Because of the disparity in tons produced as compared to units assessed, the NMJRDD has worked with the City of Conrad to improve the accuracy of assessments.
   Business assessments are expressed in terms of number of residential equivalents. The garbage assessment is based on the cubic yard volume of the container that the city provides, times the number of pickups per week, divided buy .5 (for the 12 cubic yard residential equivalent).
   For example, a 1.5-yard container that is picked up twice a week has an assessment of six units (1.5 x x2)/. 5=6.
   The board of directors of the landfill and the management team of NMJRDD has spent considerable time and effort to get the assessment accurate.
   The increase only affects the business community, not residential homes.
   The 14 percent, all at once, increase will have a big effect on business. For example, the assessment means the Pondera Medical Center will see an increase in their collection fees of $6,120.
   The county is assessed 11 units at $85 per unit and the city is assessed 31.5 units also at $85 a unit.
   If a business believes it is being over-assessed, there are some possibilities to reduce the assessment, reevaluate the container six and/or number of pickups, and relay any appropriate charges to the city.
   Other possibilities include diverting garbage through recycling, or if you share a container with other businesses, visit with your neighbors to determine if shares are equitable.
   All of these changes and calculations will be discussed at a public meeting to be held on may 14, 7 p.m. in the courtroom at the Pondera County Courthouse.
   You may want to mark this date on your calendar.