SOMERSET — The city of Somerset will drop a lawsuit challenging the state auditor's authority to do special examinations of cities, Mayor Eddie Girdler announced Monday.
Girdler signed the lawsuit in response to a preliminary report by Auditor Adam Edelen's office that cited a number of problems with city personnel practices and financial activities, including failing to get bids as required.
The lawsuit said local officials had not been given adequate time to respond to the findings but also argued that Edelen's office had no authority for such exams.
The lawsuit sought to block release of the final report.
Some city council members disagreed with Girdler filing the complaint.
Several of them told the Herald-Leader they were prepared to try to force a vote on dropping the lawsuit at Monday night's council meeting.
However, Girdler and city attorney Carrie Wiese said the city would move to dismiss the lawsuit voluntarily after the exam by Edelen's office is finalized.
Girdler said Edelen's office had given the city additional time to respond to the findings of the examination, resolving some concerns.
The mayor also he'd decided that some other concerns — such as a lack of statutory standards governing the scope of such municipal special examinations — would be better addressed through the legislative process than in court.
Girdler said city officials feared the audit could cost the city $60,000 or more. The city and Edelen's office will negotiate a fee, Girdler said.
Stephenie Hoelscher, spokeswoman for Edelen, said the auditor's office was pleased Somerset had reconsidered.
"The role of the state auditor as the taxpayer watchdog is critical to ensuring good government," she said.
The auditor's office is required to do annual financial audits of a number of county offices such as the sheriff, while cities hire certified public accountants for their required audits.
But the auditor's office has long claimed the right to do special exams of cities, sometimes in response to allegations of impropriety.
J.D. Chaney, deputy executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, said earlier that while state law did not include explicit authorization for the auditor's office to do special municipal exams, the law strongly implied the office did have such authority.