Counties Affirmed In State Auditor Lawsuit

Counties Affirmed In State Auditor Lawsuit Click to Enlarge

DETROIT LAKES, MN--Becker County officials learned today (Tuesday) the Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court’s decision and upheld the statute allowing counties to hire private CPA firms to conduct their audits.

Three counties, Becker, Ramsey and Wright, were specifically named in a lawsuit filed by State Auditor Rebecca Otto in which Otto contended the statute passed by the legislature in 2015 violated the core function of the Office of the State Auditor (SOA) to be able to perform annual audits. The counties defend their right to hire private CPA firms to conduct their audits. Becker County Administrator Jack Ingstad says the Court of Appeals ruling is good news for the counties involved.

"Now you have two courts basically saying the legislature didn't exceed their authority by delegating some of the audit responsibilities to a county decision. The state auditor still remains in charge of audit authority but the counties can now hire a private auditing firm to conduct their audits." But, Ingstad says the county's not out of the weeds yet as far as litigation and he expects an appeal by Otto to the State Supreme Court. Instad says Becker County has already spent nearly 60-thousand dollars as the lawsuit moves through the lower courts. He says the good news is that the legislature has earmarked money to reimburse counties involved in the lawsuit. Ingstad says it's hard to tell what the timeline on the lawsuit will be if the State Auditor continues with an appeal to the State Supreme Court.

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