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District 23 senator proposes bill that will hold counties accountable for financial records

A Billings senator introduced a bill that would hold a county accountable for their financial records.

District 23 Senator Roger Webb told MTN their interim committee was approached by a group of residents from Cut Bank.

“It can be any county. It just so happens that senate bill 19 is reflected on Glacier County,” Sen. Webb said.

Residents presented testimony, which led to an investigation by the committee to form Senate Bill 19.

“They just finished their 2016 audit and there was a discrepancy there of $3.9 million. Today rumor is, it’s in the neighborhood of $5 million. And the state really can’t do anything,” Sen. Webb said.

The bill essentially gives the state the authority to put a county into financial receivership.

Senator Webb said that statues say the state may put a community into receivership, but do not currently have authority over a county.

“Right now currently we do not have steps and statutes to rectify any county into compliance and they owe that to the constituents. I think it’s just a common sense scenario. We could do it anywhere else, but we could not do it to a county? We only have 56 of them and 55 of them seem to be doing it correctly,” Sen. Webb said.

Senator Webb said that if the state is able to step in, the county will have to bring their records forward to find out where the discrepancies are.

The bill is currently in its initial stages.

If the bill passes it will go to the floor. Once senate judiciary approves, it will lie in the hands of the house before needing approval from the governor.

Elizabeth Transue

Elizabeth Transue

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