- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The state reached a $204,000 settlement agreement with the former executive director of the Department of Livestock and paid him just over $105,000 four days after he resigned in September.

Current executive director Mike Honeycutt confirmed Friday that the state agreed to pay former executive director Christian Mackay his salary for two years - a total of $168,520.

Mackay also received $7,000 per month for three months to help transition the department to interim executive director Marty Ziluski and a nearly $15,000 payout for his unused personal leave.

The transparency in government website shows a $105,260 payment to Mackay on Sept. 25 - nine months after the agency laid off five workers and reduced the hours of others due to a nearly $300,000 budget deficit.

A May 2014 legislative audit found the department was breaking state law by spending brand registration money before it should have been included in its budget and by making equipment purchases before asking for a budget appropriation to do so.

At the time of Mackay’s resignation, Livestock Board chairman John Lehfeldt said Mackay had done a good job recouping finances for the next two-year budget.

But Jim Brown with the Montana Woolgrowers Association said the department’s financial situation turned around because the Legislature provided more money for the agency’s lab and two new board members were appointed who helped make tough decisions about agency personnel and raising fees on the industry.

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