Independent Record reported that the Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) employees are all getting raises, some as much as $10,000. The paper reported these raises would cost FWP between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. What kind of business “brainiac” gives a raise and isn’t even aware if it is going to cost $1.5 million or $2.5 million? These types of statements are what make me think no one in government has a clue how to maintain any sort of budget. I guess for government department managers a million or so differential on $1.5 million dollar increase is close enough. FWP Director Joe Maurier stated that the wage increases are necessary to be competitive with neighboring states. You all remember Joe Maurier? He was Governor Schweitzer’s college roommate he appointed to head the FWP in 2008 for a salary of $96,963. (Again more of the culture of cronyism prevalent in Helena) The deputy Director just had his pay jumped from $85,508 to $96,429 but Maurier stressed that his own pay would stay the same.
In a related story in today’s Billings Gazette the FWP announced that Montana hunters and anglers may have to pay higher fees in the future because their department is operating in arrears. Just coincidently the decline in revenue has averaged around $2 million per year which is miraculously close to the amounts just announced in the Independent Record that they will be doling out in pay increases. Interestingly the Gazette article stated that nonresident fees pay for about two-thirds of FWP’s annual operating costs of $35 million. I couldn’t find current information but the total annual budget of the department in 2009 was $87 million.
Back in January of 2011 the Gazette reported that the FWP spent $90 million from various places to add 232,000 acres to their holdings. In April the Gazette reported that the FWP said they were considering selling 6 parcels of land that totaled about 440 acres because “the department is having trouble meeting operational and maintenance needs.”
From feast to famine to pawning our assets to pay for today. Is anyone in charge over there?