Under a new department leader in Helena, an adviser on state land management issues is receiving double the hourly rate paid for similar positions and nearly $40 more than his boss.
Patrick H. Beddow is receiving $90 an hour to advise Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen on issues related to the Board of Land Commissioners, according to the state salary website. The board, which consists of Montana's top five elected officials, meets monthly to determine how to generate revenue for public schools through measures such as grazing and farming leases or fees at recreation sites.
The other advisers to members of the land board have primary duties that help determine their pay, such as Melissa Schlichting, an attorney who also advises Attorney General Tim Fox and is paid $41.46 an hour. But Beddow’s sole responsibility is to advise Arntzen on land board issues.
Dylan Klapmeier, media assistant to Arntzen, said working fewer hours justifies a pay rate higher than what other advisers receive.
“Because he’s working so few hours on very specific issues for the land board, it’s not uncommon for the hourly rate to be higher for employees like that,” Klapmeier said. “It’s really important for her position to have someone with a lot of experience.”
Klapmeier said Beddow has worked an average of 40 hours a month since January, and Arntzen plans to move him to 25 to 30 hours a month. The governor’s office said one of its advisers, Adam Schafer, spends approximately four hours a month on land board issues.
By far, Beddow receives more per hour than any other OPI employee or land board adviser. According to the state website, Arntzen makes $50.31 an hour to head the Office of Public Instruction and Gov. Steve Bullock is paid an hourly rate of $53.64. Ann Gilkey, the adviser for former Superintendent Denise Juneau, was paid $41.46 an hour for similar work.
In a Dec. 26 email announcing her staff appointments, Arntzen said Beddow is a consultant from Billings and has been involved with oil, gas, hard minerals, coal and land-title related issues for 38 years.
“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 email said.
Beddow’s resume says he’s been conducting mineral and land title services since 1978 and has performed contract land work for private companies.
He told the Independent Record he has 40 years of experience and said people in his industry receive a considerable amount for their expertise.
"It's substantially more than what I'm being paid by the state," he said, noting that he pays all of his own expenses except lodging in his role with the state.
"Most people with 40 years of experience in anything are retired," he added.
Numerous other state employees make more per hour than Beddow. They are typically employees who head a state agency or have completed a rigorous education to be qualified for their position.
Clay Christian, the highest paid employee in the state, makes $146 per hour as Commissioner of Higher Education. Virginia Hill makes $112 per hour as a psychiatrist with the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Other members of the land board include Gov. Steve Bullock, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, Attorney General Tim Fox and Auditor Matt Rosendale. The decisions made by the land board are carried out by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.