Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  I am selling/buying a property in Helena, how do I connect/disconnect service?

Answer:  If you are selling/buying a property in Helena, contact the Utility Customer Service office at 447-8450 at least two business days prior to closing.  This allows our office to obtain a final reading from the water meter for the old owner, and start service for the new owner.  The information that we require is the service address, seller’s name, buyer’s name and mailing address, date of closing, and title company handling the closing.  If this property is commercial and you want garbage pick up, set up garbage service with the Transfer Station at 447-8086.  If you are selling your commercial property and currently have garbage service with us, you will need to call the Transfer Station and stop your service.

Question:  I am a landlord and would like my tenant to receive and pay the utility bill. How do I do this? 

Answer:  In order for your tenant to receive the water bill there is a Rental Authorization Form that needs to be filled out by the landowner or authorized property manager.  Once this form is filled out and returned to our office, the bill will still show the landowners name but will be mailed C/O the tenant.  A new authorization form needs to be completed for each new tenant. The landowner will be notified of any delinquency.   If the tenant moves out and does not take care of his/her bill, the landowner is responsible. It is recommended for owners to receive a duplicate copy of the bill each month for no additional cost.  City Code 6-2-3, rule #14.

Question:  I am a landlord and my tenant did not pay his/her bill, which one of us is responsible?

Answer:  If your tenant moves out and does not take care of his/her bill, the landowner is responsible.  City Code 6-2-3, rule #14.

Question:  How can I find out how much my tenant owes up to the day they move out?

Answer:  If you have a tenant moving out, contact the Utility Customer Service department at 447-8450 at least two business days prior to the tenant moving.  We will order a final meter reading taken to have an exact stopping point for your tenant.  We can give you the amount owing through their last day once we have a reading.  Then you will receive the billing as normal at the end of the month.    

Question:  When are late fees assessed to my bill and how much?

Answer:  Any unpaid water bill that is more than 30 days past due shall have assessed against it interest at the rate of 1.5% per month. (City Code 6-2-3, rule #24)

Question:  Do you have any off site drop boxes for payments?

Answer:  The city has three off site drop boxes.  They are located at Van's Thriftway outside on the wall by the mailbox, Albertson's North on the wall by the mailbox and the other is on Broadway, across from the Base Camp.  It is the first box when you drive through the island.   

Question:  Whom do I contact if my water meter is leaking?

Answer:  Contact the Water Maintenance Dept. at 457-8567.

Question:  I am a renter.  How do I get the water bill sent to me?

Answer:  For a renter to get the water bill sent to them, the owner/property manager has to sign the Renter's Authorization Form.  Once that is completed and returned to our office, your name will be added to the bill after the owner’s name. 

Question:  Where can I pay my bill in person?

Answer:  If you would like to pay your bill in person, you may do so at the Utility Customer Service office located in the City/County Building at 316 N Park Ave, Room 150.  Our hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm.

Question:  Who is responsible for any maintenance to my service line and curb box?

Answer:  The city shall not be responsible for pipes and fixtures; all owners, at their own expense, must keep service pipes from the city mains and all their apparatus in good working order and properly protected from frost or other dangers.  (City Code 6-2-3, Rule #7)

Question:  Is there a way for me to look at my account online?

Answer:  Currently the City of Helena does not have the capability for our customers to view their account online.

Question:  How often is my water meter read?

Answer:  The City of Helena reads your water meter every month. 

Question:  When are water bills sent out and when are they due?

Answer:  Water bills are usually mailed the first week of each month.  You should not under normal circumstances receive your bill later than the 10th of each month.  Bills are generally due about the 20th of each month.

Question:  Can I pay my bill with a credit card, debit card or e-check?

Answer:  Yes, we do offer payment by credit card, debit card and e-check for your utility bill.  We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card.  The are no additional fees associated with these types of payments.

Question:  I just built a home and I need a container for my garbage.  How do I get one?

Answer:  You will need to come to the Accounting and Licensing Department at the City/County Building, Room 320.  You will pay a prorated amount for service through June 30th of the current fiscal year and be issued a permit which will allow you to take items directly to the transfer station.  Your container will be delivered to your residence within 3-5 business days.

Question:  Where can I pick up my residential dump permit?

Answer:   If it has already been paid for, you will need to take proof of legal ownership of the property to the Transfer Station and they will issue you a residential dump permit.  This permit allows you to haul extra items into the transfer station.

Question:  Do I have to have residential garbage service?

Answer:  Yes.  As a City of Helena resident you are billed on your property taxes for residential solid waste. 

Question:  Whom do I contact if my garbage container is damaged or missing?

Answer:  If your container is damaged or missing please contact the City of Helena Transfer Station at 447-8082.

Question:  How are my sewer (wastewater) charges calculated?

Answer:  Residential sewer is calculated based on your actual usage from the October meter read through your May meter read.  The new charges will be reflected on your July bill (mailed early August) each year.  Newly constructed residential is billed on the city wide average (7 units) per dwelling for the first year until your usage is established.  Commercial charges are based on actual water consumption.

Question:  Why am I paying for wastewater twice on my bill?

Answer:  Wastewater (sewer) is based on your actual usage October through May.  This is the water that actually goes down the sewer pipes.  The wastewater surcharge amount goes into a maintenance fund for the sewer system.

Question:  Does my lawn watering affect my wastewater calculation?

Answer:  Yes!  If you are watering your lawn either before May 15th or after October 15th it may affect your wastewater calculation. 

Question:  My bill is higher than normal, why?

Answer:  The most common reason is an increase in water consumption.  There are many causes for increased consumption and sometimes we cannot pinpoint the exact reason.  Our first recommendation is that you assess your property for plumbing problems such as a leaky toilet, faucet or a broken pipe.  Most high water bills are a result of such problems.  Also, summer time watering can cause very large changes to your water bill.  You can also look at your meter, which is equipped with a leak indicator, (click here).  The indicator will go off once the problem is resolved.  If you have checked for plumbing problems and are unable to find an explanation, you may call our Maintenance Division at 457-8567 to set an appointment with one of our technicians.

Question:  Can I read my own meter?  It appears to be blank.

Answer:  Yes, you can read your own meter.  Click here for a complete description and picture explaining how to read your meter.  If you still have problems reading it, please feel free to stop at our office for a demonstration or call our Maintenance Shop at 457-8567 to have someone come to your home.

Question:  The water meter box on the outside of my house doesn’t appear to be working.  Why?

Answer:  That’s because it was disconnected when we installed your new meter inside your home.  If you are painting or re-siding your home, you can remove the box if you wish.

Question:  I go south for the winter each year so my house is empty.  Why do I continue getting a bill even though there is no water being used?

Answer:  Unless you have the water turned off at the curb box, you will continue to be billed for the base charges and sewer charges even though there is zero water consumption.  If you wish to turn it off, please call the Maintenance Shop at 457-8567 to schedule it.