Friday, January 21, 2022

MT Department of Livestock Told to Stop Breaking State Law

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5/24/14 – Helena, MT – For the past several months, the ag media has been reporting the concerns of several of Montana livestock industry leaders about the financial management of the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL).

Those concerns became very public on Friday in Helena when the Legislative Audit Committee was presented with a Financial Compliance Audit on DOL for the past two fiscal years.

It was a difficult and disturbing day for Montana’s livestock industry.  The staff of the Montana Legislative Audit Division explained in no uncertain terms how DOL had violated state law, as well as the Montana Constitution, by improperly disbursing funds out of the state treasury.

The Legislative Auditor explained to the group how state law was broken and described the amount of money that was spent in violation.

In addition to those violations, DOL was criticized for illegally spending revenue from the 10-year “brand re-record” fees.  Because those brand revenues only come in every 10 years, the law requires them to be deferred and used over a 10-year period instead of spending the fees in the current year.

On Friday, the Legislative Auditor outlined this law on deferred revenues and told the committee that the cash balance was exceeded by over $400,000 for two consecutive years.

DOL Executive Officer Christian Mackay said the reason that the funds were used was mostly to cover cost overruns at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Bozeman.

Mackay explained why the funds were spent improperly and what they're doing to address the remaining shortfall.

In now appears that, to deal with that shortfall, DOL intends to make a “supplemental appropriations request” from the Montana State Legislature this next year.  The Legislative Audit Committee asked Mackay how much additional money he thought might be requested to address the shortfall.

It's estimated by Mackay that DOL will have to ask for $800,000.

It is fair to say that the livestock industry, particularly the associations who represent livestock owners in Montana, continue to be extremely concerned about the performance and the financial management of DOL.  On Friday, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Executive for the Montana Woolgrowers Association, Jim Brown, explained to the Audit Committee why the livestock industry is so troubled by this audit and the ongoing problems that are occurring.

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