By Michael Howell
The County got its first response from the independent auditing firm, Anderson-Zurmuehlen, that is conducting an audit of the Treasurer’s office following the placement of Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey on administrative leave.
“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,” reported lead auditor Jim Woy in a memo written to the County Attorney’s office last Thursday, February 13. Woy states that due to the volume of the work not performed in the Treasurer’s office during the past several months, more time will be required to complete the examination and catch up on the work than was originally anticipated.
Woy reports that progress is being made in the examination of the office and that agencies dependent upon monthly statements from the Treasurer’s office may receive updates covering up to the end of the past year for their review within the next few weeks.
It is expected, wrote Woy, that the Ravalli County Finance department will complete the reconciliation of all county bank statements for review and plans to have all cash reconciliations for July and August 2013 completed by Friday, February 21. All remaining reconciliations are expected to be completed by March 20.
Woy also states that the Treasurer’s office personnel intends to have all agency deposits, receipts and disbursements information that is known based on what has been obtained in the Treasurer’s office, posted by February 28, 2014.
He also gave some details about what was found in the Treasurer’s office after Stamey was placed on administrative leave.
“On the day Ms. Stamey was put on leave we accounted for $952,372.78 located in the Treasurer’s office and not deposited. We obtained copies of all subsequent deposit slips totaling $779,697.37 made by County employees from the time Ms. Stamey was put on leave through January 31, 2014.
“We noted that even after the checks that were taken out of the Treasurer’s office by County personnel there were still a large number of checks (hundreds) that were not deposited. There were numerous piles of paperwork located throughout the office that had been left incomplete. We completed the count of this cash in the Treasurer’s office on Tuesday February 4th, 2014. There was $172,675.41 of currency and checks ($171,197.68 in checks and $1,477.73in currency).
“As of February 14, 2014, most of the funds have been receipted and deposited. We will schedule out the status of all cash items and opine on it in our final report,” states the memo.
Woy noted that two agencies had reported currency discrepancies. He said whether any discrepancies remain once the reconciliations are completed will be determined in a confirmation process prior to a final report.
He also noted that the mills for the county open space bond were not properly updated on the current year tax statements. He said they could be recalculated and updated for next year’s tax statements. Other mill levies are being examined to see if they were allocated appropriately and this will appear in the final report.
County Attorney Bill Fulbright said in an accompanying press release that the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation would await the independent audit results before they will consider an investigation.
“However, due to the number and type of allegations of criminal and civil misconduct that recently have been made by Ms, Stamey and others, I believe that a broader independent investigation remains necessary,” wrote Fulbright.
Fulbright stated that retired District Court Judge Nels Swandal is conducting that independent investigation. He notes that Judge Swandal recently retired from the bench after 18 years as the District Court Judge in Park and Sweet Grass Counties, prior to which he served for 12 years as the Park County Attorney. Judge Swandal is also retired from the US Army JAG Corps, after 30 years of active and reserve duty with the US Army, Army Reserves and Montana National Guard.
“While I cannot comment further on the ongoing investigation, I will provide any information I can as it becomes available on the progress of the audit team and the findings of the independent investigation,” wrote Fulbright.