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Missoula Risk and Benefits Department Budget Scrutinized After Resort Trips

BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo courtesy of BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Missoula County Risk and Benefits Office has come under scrutiny by Missoula County Commissioners for spending too much money on training trips to resorts.

“As commissioners, we are committed to ensuring that public dollars are spent in a defensible way… so that practice will be changing moving forward,” said Missoula County Commissioner Cola Rowley. “What was different here is that they were bringing in a trainer to a resort and then incurring all of the unnecessary expenses of having all the employees travel and get mileage, hotel, and meal reimbursements.”

Rowley says the department head responsible for the trainings, Hal Luttschwager, has since retired and that the amount of money spent by the department on training far outweigh even those spent by the sheriff’s Department.

“There was a comparison made to the the Sheriff’s Department, I think their overall training budget is around $50,000, in the $700 to $800 range per capita, whereas the training for the Risk and Benefits Department, I believe, ended up being about $3,500 dollars per person in the department,” Rowley said. “So, on a per capita basis, it ended up being a lot more than other departments.”

Rowley said that the high budget for the Risk Management Department was flagged after commissioners heard about trips to resorts in Whitefish and Big Fork. Rowley says that each trip ended up costing between six and seven thousand dollars.

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