Lakeland citizens call for a city wide audit


Photo by Grace Silbernick

Citizen and council members wait to start the monthly city council meeting on April 16. Topics of the meeting include new council members and a petition for a city-wide audit.

“Does the city want to spend up to $18,000 on an audit that’s going to prove nothing?” Mayor Richard Glasgow asked during what was supposed to be the April 16 Lakeland city council meeting. A large chorus of disagreement came forth from the audience as they displayed their disapproval of Glasgow’s statement.

“We want to get our city back on track,” a concerned citizen said. “It’s off the rails.”

As of late March, a petition was offered to the citizens of Lakeland. A petition to audit the city’s finances. Several residents became concerned about the town’s financials as questions arose about the money.  Each month at every Lakeland city council meeting packets is distributed to the attendees. Within those packets is a financial report showing the past months bills and tracking of the city’s money.

As the citizens read the numbers they had several inquiries. Prompting them to do more research on their own. 

“We started looking at those,” Lakeland resident Julie Thron said. “Started raising some questions that we had, and we were having difficulty getting our questions answered by the city. So we just started digging deeper and deeper and getting more questions.”

The concerned citizens of the city of Lakeland, including Thron, created the movement to have the city audited. The group wants to make sure their city is on the right track.

“If there were any problems and even if there weren’t any problems, I think it’s just good for the city to have an audit. Figure out where you are at, and then go forward from there,” Thron said.

The city’s doing rather well. We’ve cut taxes, the water plant which had almost failed is now one of the top five in the state. So an audit is not going to show anything other than to raise awareness that the citizens are unhappy.”

— Richard Glasgow

Junior Abby Lee, a resident of Lakeland, has recently been introduced to the city’s controversial issues. After attending the April 16 meeting, she feels that the citizens have a right to be informed about the town’s finances.

However, Glasgow has differing opinions of the city residents. How the city’s finances are running is better than in current years as they have cut taxes by 12.5  percent. 

“They think there is something wrong. They have already gone to a conclusion that there is something wrong with Lakeland so now they are going to do the audit to see if they can reach a conclusion,” Glasgow said.

As for the results of the audit, Glasgow believes it will be nothing major. He has a strong trust in the city believing, “nothing’s going to come of this, minor stuff only, but nothing major…they are just searching. They are angry residents and they are frustrated, so they want to do something.”

The city has never had an audit to the knowledge of Glasgow who served as a city council member for 13 years and three years as the mayor. Thron feels that having an audit makes good financial sense.

“I think that anything you could do to benefit the city to keep yourself on track is a good thing,” Thron said, “So I’m all for it and so are a lot of people. It took us less than a month to get all of the signatures, so I think that that speaks volumes for how much people were here to see this done.”

The petition signatures were sent to the county auditor’s department on April 16. There they will verify the signatures that have been collected. For the signers to be valid they must be a registered voter in the last election and be a resident of Lakeland. Of the 320 signatures, approximately 250 of those needed to be authenticated for the audit to be granted. The audit does not have an end date for the results if admitted. 

“The city’s doing rather well,” Glasgow said, “we’ve cut taxes, the water plant which had almost failed is now one of the top five in the state. So an audit is not going to show anything other than to raise awareness that the citizens are unhappy.”