Last year, The Montana Public Service Commission ordered Southern Montana Telephone Co. to disclose the salary information of any executives making more than $100,000 per year. On Monday, a Montana District Court Judge denied the companies request to keep that information private. Communications Director Eric Sell explains why the PSC wants the disclosure.

“They receive over 55% of their annual revenue from the Universal Service Fund,” said Sell. “So to ensure that that USF funding is used properly, the commission is requiring disclosure of their executive salaries just to make sure that the funding is going towards its intended purpose.”

If the numbers appear too high when the information is released, the PSC could take action.

“That would have to be a decision for the commission to make,” Sell said. “They would get together with staff to determine if Southern Montana Telephone Co. was using the USF funds as intended. We could possibly not certify them in the future as a an ETC so they would be ineligible to receive that funding in the future until they took any corrective actions.”

In his decision, Judge Mike Menahan affirmed the PSC’s reasoning, stating, “The public has a constitutional right to scrutinize Southern’s public utility records.”