Ravalli Co. issues checks to strapped entities over treasurer's office dilemma


HAMILTON, Mont. - Ravalli County is issuing anywhere from $1.5 million to $2 million worth of checks to government entities, like the city of Hamilton.

The county treasurer, Valerie Stamey, asked for permission to hire temporary workers to help with the workload.

The county's disbursement of money is a relief for 17 entities that haven't received tax receipts since September. They include libraries, cemeteries, some park districts, the city of Hamilton and the towns of Darby, Pinesdale and Stevensville.

All those entities rely on the county for financial allocations, but they have their own separate bank accounts.

No schools will receive checks because Ravalli County serves as their bank.

Stamey's difficulties as treasurer came to a head Monday when school, irrigation, fire and city officials confronted her and commissioners.

On Tuesday, Ravalli County chief financial officer, Klarryse Murphy prepared a schedule of tax receipts that should take some of the pressure off entities relying on the county for financial allocations. That money should be ready Wednesday.

"We run what receipts have been put in for the various entities," said Murphy, "and then do a schedule and see how much we could get them a check because they are operating without paychecks."

Murphy said she is double-checking to make sure entities get the money needed by examining the tax receipts for November and December, then comparing them to the current tax levy.

What has happened in the treasurer's office, she said, is that the money may be there, but it hasn't been recorded in the checkbook.

Three veteran treasurer's office workers, including a former treasurer, quit under Stamey. Those three positions have been filled. But Stamey is now asking for temporary workers.

"People to take some of the busy work that takes our more experienced people to answer phones," said commissioner Jeff Burrows.

Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack said he's happy and pleased with the commissioners' efforts to solve the problem. But Mim Mack said he remains concerned about the treasury department's deficiencies.

He said the town of Stevensville's general fund operating funds were down to $18,000. The town of Stevensville should receive a check of about $130,000.