Earlier this week, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a report of county audits performed by Rebecca Otto and the Office of the State Auditor (OSA). The OLA report confirmed what my House Republican colleagues and I have been saying for months; our changes to county audits can and should benefit counties, and are completely within the jurisdiction of the Legislature.
The 2015 State Government Finance omnibus bill was passed by a bipartisan group of representatives and senators, and then signed into law by the governor. What the OLA report showed is that our changes to county audits – to allow private audit firms to compete for business in the free market while providing the very same audit as the State Auditor – can, in fact, save taxpayers money. In 2014, Cass County used the OSA for audits while the similar county of Hubbard used an outside CPA firm. Rebecca Otto’s audit was an incredible $76,000 more expensive. This is an unfair and wasteful cost for Minnesota counties trying to provide essential services to their residents.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto isn’t satisfied with the report findings, so now she’s suing some counties to limit their ability to shop for a more reasonable price. She has already wasted over $120,000 of your tax dollars to research this lawsuit, and will spend more of your tax dollars executing the lawsuit. This is nothing more than a capricious waste of taxpayer money by Auditor Otto and her office.
I like what one county administrator said in the report: “Repeated attempts to intimidate us in to a 3 year contract has left us with doubts about our previously good relationship with [OSA].” I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for the auditor to stop bullying counties, move passed this petty lawsuit and accept these small changes that can help our local counties save money. The legislature started this process early in the 2015 session, and we worked it through the process all the way to Governor Dayton’s desk, where he signed it into law! This law will save taxpayers, like you, money every year.
According to the OLA report, “If the 2015 legislation is not repealed by the Legislature or overturned by a court, we recommend that the State Auditor use the legislation as an opportunity to reassess OSA’s audit schedule and prepare a strategic plan that ensures all local governments will receive adequate OSA oversight.”
So, how about it, Auditor Otto? Instead of wasting taxpayer money with a petty, frivolous lawsuit, prove to Minnesotans if you can provide sufficient county audits in a cost effective manner. Don’t continue to squander Minnesotans' hard-earned tax dollars like Monopoly money simply because you don’t agree with a constitutional, bipartisan change to state law.
If you feel as I do that Rebecca Otto is wasting your tax dollars, please call her office at 651-296-2551, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet her at @Rebecca_Otto and let her know. Additionally, tell Governor Dayton that he should support the bill language that HE SIGNED INTO LAW. Call his office at 651-201-3400, email him at email@example.com and tweet him at @govMarkDayton and tell him that if he didn’t like the language, he should have vetoed the bill, but now since he signed it into law he should support it, too.