Commissioners and CFO still waiting for info from Treasurer Don Wilson
The financial update by Glacier County Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson lacked the details the Glacier County Commissioners and public were hoping to hear at last week’s meeting. Kittson told the Commissioners at the June 25 meeting he still doesn’t have the “final tax revenue numbers” from Treasurer Don Wilson but expects the “Treasurer will have them very soon.”
Kittson estimates Glacier County will need nearly $3.8 million in tax revenue and other sources to bring all county employees back to work and operate at full capacity for the next six months. “But we cannot make decisions if we don’t have accurate information.”
Later in the meeting, Wilson reported he won’t be posting the June 1 tax payments until mid-July. With this year’s May 31 tax deadline falling on a Sunday, Wilson said he had to accept tax payments on June 1, which is causing the delay.
“You have to wait until the end of the month to post taxes,” explained Wilson. He said he will have the figures needed by Kittson and the Commissioners by mid-July.
According to Toole County Treasurer Boyd Jackson, Montana state law requires counties to make two payments to the Department of Revenue (DOR) in June. Jackson explained the first payment in June is for taxes collected in May. The second, which is due on June 15, is for taxes collected June 1-15.
Counties must disburse tax revenue collected to not only DOR, but also any other taxing agencies it collects taxes for, such as cities, towns, water districts, special improvement districts, etc., and the Department of Justice, explained Jackson.
When asked if there would be a reason why the tax revenue information for Glacier County would not be available until mid-July, Jackson responded, “No.”
The close-out and transferring of Browning Schools’ funds from county control to “self-banking” is also slowing Kittson’s ability to formulate a June through November 2020 spending plan for Glacier County.
Commissioner John Overcast asked, “How do you get solid numbers?” Overcast said he knows Glacier County owes School District No. 9 money.
Wilson said he and Kittson have a “worst case scenario” dollar amount Glacier County owes the Browning School District.
“We’ve got to have the number,” said Commission Chairman Michael Des-Rosier. “It’s better to know.”
When pressed for the “worst case” figure, Kittson said $1.5 million.
County Attorney Terryl Matt asked Wilson when he expects to know the “exact amount” owed to the Browning Schools. Wilson didn’t supply a timeline, but blamed “incorrect accounting” for “slowing down the final tally.”
“We need to know right away,” said DesRosier.
Wilson said working in the office slows him down and told the Commissioners he can get more work done at home and in the evenings “without interruptions.”
DesRosier responded, “We built you an office in the back…” Wilson has since moved his desk to the front of the Treasurer’s Office.
Wilson said the last time the County and the four school districts’ books balanced was in June 2014. He said he has “sent off” the corrections to journal voucher (JV) entries to the school district clerks but has received no response from them as of last week.
Clerks from Cut Bank, East Glacier and Mountain View were contacted after the meeting to confirm Wilson’s statements.
Scott Laird, District Clerk and Business Manager of the Cut Bank Schools responded, “I have never received any information regarding JVs from the County.”
Denise Mason, Business Manager of East Glacier Park Grade School, replied, “East Glacier has been ‘in balance’ with the County for the past four years…To date, the County Treasurer has sent me no corrections to review.”
Mason said the school district has been “out of balance in the past, but errors can usually be tracked down and fixed on a month-by-month basis…I have only had one difficulty resolving one balancing issue over the past four years,” which Mason added, “I did eventually get the error corrected.”
Joni Woldstad, Business Manager of Mountain View Elementary School, said the school district “has been able to balance with the County by getting any differences found and corrected.”
Both the East Glacier and Mountain View Elementary School Districts said they were “in balance” when they began self-banking in mid-January 2020 after moving their funds from county control.
When asked about the statements made by Wilson, Browning School Superintendent Corrina Guardipee Hall stated, “We are looking into this.”
“I’m confident we owe them money,” said Overcast.
“I don’t know that and you don’t know that,” replied Wilson.