A lawsuit by the city of Somerset challenging the state auditor's authority to do examinations of cities will continue for now, despite the mayor's recent statement that it would be dropped.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said Monday the city would drop the complaint after Auditor Adam Edelen's office issued a final report on its examination of city finances and personnel practices.
Edelen's office issued the report Wednesday.
It cited a number of problems, including that the city failed to get bids on some work as required and that employees feared retaliation if they talked to auditors.
Edelen said in a release with the report that city officials "generally ignored policies and ordinances," and that it was "not how a city ought to be run."
The city disagreed with many of the findings.
City attorney Carrie Wiese said in a statement issued Friday that Edelen had failed to deliver on promises he made to Girdler about revisions in the final report.
Also Friday, the city's attorneys filed documents in the lawsuit seeking information on how much it cost to do the exam and whether Edelen will seek payment from the city.
Stephenie Hoelscher, spokeswoman for Edelen, said it was baffling the city would continue paying legal bills to fight over the report.
Edelen's office worked with local officials — after negotiations with Girdler — to make changes in the exam report, and agreed to negotiate a fee for the work, Hoelscher said.
"Apparently the city would prefer to pay lawyers rather than the taxpayer watchdog, who performed work that speaks for itself," she said.
The auditor's office will continue defending the lawsuit, Hoelscher said.
State law requires the auditor to do annual audits of county offices. The law does not require the office to audit cities, but it has long claimed the right to do special municipal examinations.
The legal authority for such exams remains a legitimate question, Wiese said, but the city's main concern in continuing the lawsuit is to figure out if Edelen intends to bill the city "for the expenses of his often self-serving findings."
The answers could determine whether the city ultimately drops the suit, Wiese said.