- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - Ravalli County’s commissioners continue their efforts to get the county’s accounting mess cleared up.

Commissioners on Thursday approved spending up to $10,000 to hire retired Beaverhead County treasurer Kathy Allard as a temporary treasurer to get the county’s books up to date.

They also authorized a $4 million tax payment to the state to avoid a $37,000 penalty. The state estimated the county owes nearly $4.5 million, but required a $4 million payment to avoid the penalty. The rest of the payment will be made after the books are reconciled, commission chairman Greg Chilcott said.

Treasurer Valerie Stamey was put on paid leave on Jan. 23 after falling months behind in depositing money and providing disbursements and financial reports. She has claimed the county’s books were a mess when she was appointed in September. She alleged files were missing and that the office had allowed tax liens to be sold illegally.

After she left, county workers found more than $800,000 in uncashed checks in the treasurer’s office.

Commissioners spent much of Thursday’s meeting discussing a state law that requires treasurers to provide regular reports or face a fine of up to $500. They agreed to ask Stamey to attend a Feb. 18 commission meeting to discuss the issue.

Some members of the public testified the commissioners weren’t moving quickly enough to discipline Stamey, but deputy county attorney Howard Recht said the commission should provide Stamey with due process.

Allard is expected to begin her work on Monday.

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