By Michael Howell
It has been almost a month since the Ravalli County Commissioners decided to file a lawsuit to collect about $29,000 in fines from County Treasurer Valerie Stamey. But as of Monday, April 7, there is no record at the courthouse of any suit having been filed.
At a meeting this past February 18, the county commissioners identified in a two-hour long process at least 58 delinquent monthly reports and settlements, required to be produced as part of the Treasurer’s duties. According to statute, the Treasurer forfeits $500 for each late report and “the Board of County Commissioners shall institute the suits necessary to recover those sums.” On March 10, the commissioners unanimously agreed to file the lawsuit aimed at collecting $29,000 in fines from County Treasurer Valerie Stamey.
Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright has not returned repeated telephone calls from the Bitterroot Star over the past week and half seeking some comment concerning the status of the lawsuit.
County Commission Chair Greg Chilcott told the Bitterroot Star last week that the delay had to do with some issues over due process and that the County Attorney was waiting on the results of the current audit and the investigation by retired Judge Nels Swandal before filing suit.
“I think the idea is that by waiting, all of the issues involving the Treasurer could be addressed in a single suit instead of having a string of separate lawsuits going on,” said Chilcott. He said that no commission meeting has subsequently been held to discuss the matter since they made the decision to file the lawsuit back on March 10, but that this was his understanding of the delay on the part of the County Attorney’s office in filing it.
Stamey is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the audit and Swandal’s report.