State Superintendent Pays $90 an Hour to Land Board Adviser

Elsie Arntzen pays Billings consultant to advise her on Land Board issues

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — Montana’s superintendent of public instruction is paying a Billings consultant $90 an hour to advise her on issues before the state Land Board, according to the state salary website.

A staff attorney who advised the previous state superintendent and one who currently advises Attorney General Tim Fox both were paid $41.46 an hour, the Independent Record reported Wednesday.

The Land Board consists of the state’s top five elected officials and meets monthly to determine how best to manage state trust lands to generate revenue for public schools through agricultural leases, timber and mineral development and fees charged at recreational sites.

Dylan Klapmeier, a spokesman for Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, says Patrick H. Beddow has been working about 40 hours a month since January but will work 25 to 30 hours monthly going forward.

The governor’s office said one if its advisers, Adam Schafer, spends about four hours a month on land board issues. He earns just under $42 an hour, according to the state salary website.

Beddow has been involved in oil, gas, minerals, coal and land-title issues for 38 years, Arntzen said in December when she announced her staff appointments.

“His professional interfacing with land and mineral owners, energy companies, and all levels of government will be of great importance to land board matters,” the announcement said.

Beddow told the newspaper that people in his industry receive considerably more pay than he’s receiving from the state to advise Arntzen. He also notes he’s paying all of his expenses, except for lodging.

Arntzen earns $50 a hour as Superintendent of Public Instruction. Gov. Steve Bullock’s hourly pay is $53.64 while Fox earns $59.37.

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