Oct. 18, 2016 – West Bend, WI – During the next Washington County Board meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 25, a resolution vote of ‘No Confidence’ in County Treasurer Jane Merten will be brought before Supervisors.
The resolution stems from a pair of wire transfers that occurred June 1, 2016 when Merten sent two separate wire transfers to fraudulent accounts. The total was $87,760, although the Washington County Sheriff said half of that never went through.
As a result $32,163.76 was returned to Washington County on Sept. 15, 2016.
Merten is up for reelection and her name is on the Nov. 8 ballot. She is running uncontested.
District 21 Supervisor Donald Kriefall initiated the resolution for a ‘no confidence’ vote. His comments are below.
“As an elected official we’re limited in what we can do in our scope of authority over another elected official. If it would have been an administrator or county employee there would have been disciplinary action taken, up and including termination.”
-“I met with Jane and standard practice was not followed with this transaction.”
-“We’re caretakers of the taxpayers money and we need to have some sort of consequence for this error and a vote of no confidence is the least we can do.”
-“This kind of puts her on notice and she made a mistake and this is our way of putting a letter in her file.”
-Questioned whether this vote will help Merten do her job better, Kriefall said, “I don’t know.”
-Raises for elected officials are approved by the County Board and increases were approved for all elected officials.
-Kriefall said the resolution wasn’t brought up immediately because the situation was under investigation.
-Kriefall said numerous supervisors have complained and wanted some action taken. A simple majority on the 26 member board is needed for the resolution to pass.
-“I didn’t get the impression this was an intentional act but there were quite a few wire transfers made before and they were all done with an invoice, RFP or a signature by the person sending them and this is the only one that was not done that way.”
-Questioned if Merten has made other, numerous mistakes Kriefall said, no. “Typically when you make a wire transfer of that amount there are checks and balances for it and they weren’t followed.”
-“The treasurer can choose to step down and there are other steps that could be taken too like a call for resignation.”
-“In the long run it still was an error in judgment by the treasurer and her checks and balances should have been followed and they weren’t for whatever reason.”
County Board Chairman Rick Gundrum:
-“This is the best way to deal with this and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
-“We are not asking for her to resign, at this stage.”
-“We sat down with Jane and asked for her side of the story and from there Don decided he still wanted to do the resolution.”
County Supervisor Kris Deiss:
-“I just got the paperwork. I’m thinking about it. I want to hear what comments are made. I don’t know the specifics to form an opinion at this point.”
-“This resolution does not mean she loses her job.”
Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann:
-“The problem the County Board really has is with the timing because the November election is three weeks from now and her name is on the ballot but she’s uncontested.”
WASHINGTON COUNTY, WISCONSIN
3 Date of enactment: __________
4 Date of publication: __________
6 2016 RESOLUTION 37
8 Vote of No Confidence
9 WHEREAS, the highest standards of conduct and performance is expected and demanded
10 of all Washington County employees and elected officials; and
12 WHEREAS, that on June 1, 2016 County Treasurer Jane Merten, did send two (2) separate
13 wire transfers to fraudulent accounts, totaling $87,760.00; and
15 WHEREAS, these requests were found in the spam folder on her County e-mail in the form
16 of several e-mails from a sender purporting to be County Administrator, Josh Schoemann, directing
17 her to make these wire transfers to “consultants” for services rendered; and
19 WHEREAS, County Treasurer Merten did not receive an invoice for this transfer nor did
20 request a signature from County Administrator Schoemann in order to authorize said transfer, in
21 fact, ignoring past practice procedures; and
23 WHEREAS, due to the actions of County Treasurer Merten, the Washington County
24 taxpayers have been defrauded of $87,760.00;
26 NOW, THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that due to the above stated actions, the
27 Washington County Board of Supervisors no longer has the confidence in County Treasurer Merten
28 to effectively perform the constitutional duties of that office.
29 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution be made a part of the recorded
30 proceedings of this Board.
31 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to County
32 Treasurer Merten to confirm that the Washington County Board no longer has confidence in her
33 ability to continue to serve as Washington County Treasurer.