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State auditor sues state over law allowing counties to use private auditors

State Auditor Rebecca Otto sued the state of Minnesota and three counties Thursday over a 2015 state law that allows counties to use private audit firms instead of her office.

The suit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, is asking a judge to either preserve her office's "constitutional authority" to audit counties in Minnesota under the new law, or to declare the law unconstitutional. Otto's suit names the state of Minnesota and Becker, Ramsey and Wright counties as defendants.

Forty-seven other counties have also rejected Otto's attempt to audit their books, according to the suit.

"The County Defendants' interpretation of the Privatization Legislation would deprive Minnesota Taxpayers of the auditing oversight and stewardship that the OSA [Office of the State Auditor] has provided for more than 150 years," the suit said. "Such an interpretation would also have a devastating effect on the OSA, including lay-offs, lost talent and experience, a substantially smaller budget, and the loss of primary responsibility of the Office."

St. Paul launches new winter parking app

Do you live in St. Paul? Are you confused by the city’s snow emergency rules? Don’t want to get towed?

Well, consider this bit of news as snowstorm serendipity.

Just as the next whopper of a winter storm bears down on the Twin Cities, the City of St. Paul is launching a free St. Paul Winter Snow Parking App. The app gives notifications when snow emergencies are declared; information on when and where people need to move vehicles; an interactive map showing where people can and cannot park during all phases of the snow emergency; basic snow emergency parking rules;  towing; and contact information for questions.                                             

If you live in St. Paul, or just visit a lot, the city is encouraging you to download the Winter Snow Parking app to lessen the odds of getting towed this winter.

The app is available in both English and Spanish, and provides a link to snow emergency information in eight languages.

The app notifies users when a snow emergency is declared, one hour prior to night and day parking restrictions going into effect, and when snow emergency parking restrictions have been lifted. The app also allows the city to send other important information to smart phones during a snow emergency.

St. Paul also offers SnowAlerts via email and text messages in 4 languages.

Visit the Apple or Android app store or http://www.stpaul.gov/snowapp to download the app for your Apple or Android phone.

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