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Ravalli County reacts to treasurer's charges and demands

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jan 22 2014 07:35:33 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 22 2014 09:13:10 PM MST

One demand was telling commissioners that she will change banks unless all other signatories on Treasury Office accounts at First Interstate Bank besides her own be removed.

HAMILTON, Mont. -

At noon on Wednesday, the Ravalli County Treasurer's office did not close its doors for an hour, even though Valerie Stamey told commissioners she would close it over the noon hour.

"Statute does allow her to close that office between noon and 1," said commissioner Jeff Burrows.

But Burrows said it would not sit well with the lines of people waiting for service.

Dan Castillo was waiting in line to pay his car license.

"I think it would be very unfortunate, because there are a lot of people running around during the noon hour," said Castillo.

Stamey told commissioners said she would change banks unless all other signatories on Treasury Office accounts except her own be removed. Among the other signatories besides Stamey are the clerk and recorder and commission chairman.

Burrows said the money is staying at First Interstate, and he doesn't think she has the authority to call for the removal of other names.

"Part of the checks and balances," said Burrows, "is not one person has control of all the money in one account."

Stamey wrote in a letter that she would suspend the supervisor of motor vehicles for what she called the "intimidation" of another employee. But Bonnie Dugan went to work as usual.

"You can't just arbitrarily and capriciously suspend an employee," said Burrows.

Commissoner Ron Stoltz had no comment. Commission Chairman Greg Chilcott was in Helena. Commissioner Suzy Foss said she didn't have anything further to add.

She declined a camera interview, but did say, "It's been played out in the media far too much and it's time for us to get down to what the facts are."

Ravalli County resident Neelna Conkel said she's lost trust in the treasurer's office.

"I was hoping for some kind of response to what was going on with county funds," said Conkel.

Castillo, the man waiting in line in the treasurer's office said, "It's hard for me to understand what side is telling the truth and which side isn't, or if they're both telling the truth."

The county has been working with a state Department of Administration government accounting specialist, to help Stamey and her staff develop procedures to help them get caught up. But the latest developments have changed that.

"It was decided to put on hold any work with DOA until the next few days have passed," said Ravalli County Chief Financial Officer Klarryse Murphy.