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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Urging state auditor to honor court's decision in suit vs. counties

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

To the editor,

This letter is to urge area citizens to join me in asking State Auditor Rebecca Otto to abide by the recent court dismissal of her heavy-handed lawsuit against three Minnesota counties – including Wright.

The suit is over legislation enacted in 2015 to allow counties the option of hiring certified public accountant firms to handle their audits instead of being forced to be subjects of the state auditor’s system. It is a good law which passed with bipartisan support. The core objective is to provide counties with the flexibility to conduct business as they see fit – in the name of efficiency and taxpayer savings.

Instead of recognizing the value in that approach, Otto is engaging in a turf war, bent on protecting government bureaucracy at the expense of taxpayers. Not only is Otto looking to prevent counties from achieving savings by rescinding their new auditing options, she already has spent at least $220,000 in taxpayer dollars with this lawsuit.

On top of that, she has forced Wright, Becker and Ramsey counties to spend at least $50,000 more of citizens' hard-earned money on court fees. It is interesting those three counties are being singled out in the suit along with the state of Minnesota when, in total, at least 50 counties are looking to partner with a CPA.

All this to resist a change that was approved by a Democrat Senate, a Republican House and was signed into law by a Democrat governor, himself a former State Auditor.

It appeared Otto’s wasteful endeavor may have run its course when District Court Judge Lezlie Ott Marek recently dismissed the suit. The kicker came when Otto indicated a few days later that she was filing an appeal.

This game has gone on long enough. Expenditures from the auditor’s office eventually are handed down to counties, meaning the more Otto fights this bipartisan law and the judge’s ruling, the more our property taxes will rise. It is ultimately a tax increase shrouded in a lawsuit.

Please join me in asking Otto to put taxpayers and local government ahead of state bureaucracy by honoring the court’s decision. You can contact her by calling (651) 296-2551 or by emailing state.auditor@osa.state.mn.us.

Sincerely,

Rep. Joe McDonald

 

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