Ravalli Co. approves expenditures for temp workers in troubled treasurer's office


HAMILTON, Mont. - Commissioners approved the expenditure of more than $2,300 for labor in the treasurer's office. The temporary workers would do basic tasks like answering phones.

It would free up full-time workers to deal with the maze of work that's piled up in the treasurer's office.

Valerie Stamey has been under fire for weeks for the way she has handled money in her appointed office as county treasurer.

Commissioner Greg Chilcott said he anticipated that Stamey would attend the meeting. But sources said she remained working in her office.

Commissioners said they are expecting a statement from the treasurer soon. Stamey's silence in light of the backlog has been frustrating for many people.

Linda Isaacs is the former head tax clerk who narrowly lost out to Stamey in the appointment. She said she anticipated this kind of trouble when she quit her job in the treasurer's office. Isaacs said the new treasurer did not know her job.

"She didn't know how to receipt money," said Isaacs, "she didn't know how to balance money."

Isaacs said she applied for the treasurer's position after many of her co-workers backed her. Isaacs trained other treasurers in the software that Ravalli County uses.

She had worked as a deputy treasurer in Lake County and spent years in the Ravalli County treasurer's office. She said she didn't go into the job interview with a good feeling.

"I was told by three people that Valerie already had the job," said Isaacs.

The point-spread between the two women used to hire them was miniscule.

Commissioners Suzy Foss, Ron Stoltz and Jeff Burrows all voted for Stamey. Foss and Stoltz declined any comment. But Burrrows said Isaacs was a good candidate.

"They were close," said Burrows, "it wasn't a blowout. I hadn't made up my mind before I went in. I evenly weighed them."

Commissioners can't say much more about their choice until they hear from the treasurer.

Meanwhile, a new candidate has entered the treasurer's race in Ravalli County. Hamilton resident Mary Kay Browning tells NBC Montana she plans to file her candidacy on Friday, and that seeing the recent situation in the Treasurer's office unfold prompted her to throw her hat in ring again.

Browning served as treasurer for Ravalli County from 1987 to 2002.

"The people in my office were very easy to work with. It's a hands-on position. It's not just a managerial position. It's got to be hands-on too," said Browning.

Browning plans to file as a Democrat.