After years of trying to enter the Missoula market, a garbage hauler based in Belgrade on Thursday received approval from the Public Service Commission to begin serving the Garden City.
L&L Site Services initially won a certificate to serve Missoula back 2018. But after a series of legal twists, the PSC later reversed that decision, forcing L&L to reapply. It did so late last year. The PSC approved the request on Thursday on a 3-2 decision.
Commissioners Randy Pinocci and Brad Johnson voted against L&L’s certificate. Johnson said that while he supports the free market, he doesn’t think L&L met the criteria to operate under Montana. But Commissioners Tony O’Donnell, James Brown and Jennifer Fielder thought otherwise and voted yes.
Fielder, who represents the Missoula region on the PSC, said L&L deserved approval, even if it takes a bit out of Republic Services, which has been Missoula’s only hauler since the 1970s.
“It is not enjoyable at all to rule against a large company in my district and its supporters, but it would be a grave injustice to deny the license,” Fielder said.
L&L began hauling construction trash in 2006 in Gallatin County before applying for a certificate to compete against Republic Services and the city of Bozeman for regular garbage pickup.
It won that permit and started competing with Republic in suburban and rural areas outside Bozeman, where Republic had been the only trash hauler.
L&L contends that it can provide better service in Missoula at lower prices.