Auditor: Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office disburses $1M in payments

2014-04-05T09:16:00Z 2014-07-05T20:21:55Z Auditor: Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office disburses $1M in paymentsBy DAVID ERICKSON Ravalli Republic The Billings Gazette
April 05, 2014 9:16 am  • 

HAMILTON – An independent auditor released a third status update on his examination of the troubled Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office on Friday, saying workers have deposited and disbursed a backlog of nearly $1 million in tax payments.

But much work remains to reconcile the county’s books, he cautioned.

Jim Woy, the business manager for Anderson ZurMuehlen of Butte, the state’s largest CPA firm, sent his status report to Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright.

“County personnel continues the time-consuming and challenging task of completing all county cash account reconciliations current through January 2014,” Woy wrote. “As of March 27, 2014, cash reconciliations have been completed through September 2013. There are unreconciled differences that are still being investigated. We are overseeing this process and intend to opine on these reconciliations in our final report.”

Woy also said the treasurer’s office has caught up with the backlog of work pertaining to deposit receipts, posting activities such as tax allocations, warrants and other disbursements of funds to agencies in Ravalli County.

Fulbright ordered the review after a Jan. 21 meeting in which interim treasurer Valerie Stamey accused three members of the county commission and other county employees of corruption. Stamey was suspended with pay at that meeting, and accused former employees of not providing the information she needed to do her work and creating a hostile workplace.

That meeting had originally been called because commissioners wanted Stamey to answer questions about a civil judgement filed against her in a South Carolina court, which she refused to do.

Stamey was appointed by a 3-2 vote by the commissioners last fall. During her tumultuous four-month tenure, three of her office’s most senior employees quit, citing a hostile work environment created by Stamey.

The office also fell months behind in distributing payments and receipts to local government entities.

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Woy’s update to Fulbright on Feb. 14 stated: “At this point, it is apparent the duties of the Ravalli County treasurer were not properly executed and the state of the treasurer’s office was in disarray.”

Stamey sued Woy’s firm for $10 million in punitive damages shortly afterward, claiming that the statement exposed her to “hatred, contempt, ridicule, obloquy” and caused her to be shunned and avoided.

County commissioners voted unanimously to sue Stamey on Feb. 18 for refusing or neglecting to file 58 financial reports or settlements that state law requires of all county treasurers.

Woy’s update Friday said that $952,372 of cash found in the treasurer’s office has been receipted, deposited or posted. He also said his team has developed numerous internal control recommendations during its examination and those measures will be included in the final report.

Many county agencies are still anxious for the whole mess to be cleared up.

“We’re over eight months behind now,” said Elaine Culletto, the office manager for the Bitter Root Irrigation District.

Fulbright said there is still a lot of work to be done.

“As noted by Mr. Woy, there is a great amount of ongoing work being done to get the county’s funds current and reconciled, all while keeping Ravalli County’s day-to-day operations going forward,” he said in a statement. “Hopefully the transparency of this independent audit will give our taxpaying citizens some assurance that all monies will be properly accounted for.”

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