HELENA — The Montana Board of Livestock on Wednesday took steps to tighten its oversight of the state’s livestock agency in the wake of financial problems and the resignation of its executive officer last month.
The board updated the Department of Livestock’s policies and procedures during a meeting in the Capitol, including revisions to keep the board apprised of the department’s spending and to allow it to fire the head of the agency at will.
Over the past year, the agency has cut jobs and furloughed other workers because of a budget shortfall brought on in part by a cut in state funding and a reduction in money coming in from brand inspections.
Those budget problems were compounded when a 2014 legislative audit found the department spent $197,000 in state treasury money without recording the expenditures. The audit also found the department used deferred revenue from previous years to illegally pay for current year operations.
Board members Nina Baucus and Ed Waldner called Wednesday’s policy changes routine updates to a document that had not been revised in years. However, board chairman John Lehfeldt acknowledged several of the changes were made in response to the agency’s problems.
The executive officer must now submit the livestock department’s budget to the board for approval before it is sent to the governor’s office to be included in the overall state budget proposal, according to the new policy.
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Source: Associated Press