An anonymous group is asking Iron Mountain Lake residents to sign a petition requesting a state audit of the city’s finances. But city officials are saying that doing so will be a financial burden for the city.
The group is calling its effort Iron Mountain Lake "Operation Change." The website, ironmountainlake.com, is asking registered voters to sign a petition for the audit.
In order for the state auditor to look into the city’s books and records, 122 registered voters have to sign the petition. There are 446 registered voters in IML, according to their website.
“We want to reform the existing government and establish a responsible lawful government,” a representative said in an email. “Accountability is paramount, and we want to see actual benefits for the residents. Otherwise, what is the point? There has been too much neglect, harassment and victimization.”
City officials are urging residents not to sign the petition. They say it will hurt the city.
“The petition audit would not be funded by the state,” the city’s response letter stated. “The funding for the audit would fall entirely on the shoulders of the city of Iron Mountain Lake.”
The letter says the city was audited in 2008 and it cost the city $16,000.
“Only very minor bookkeeping discrepancies were (found) during the audit process and corrective suggestions were made, which the city heeded to,” the letter stated. “However the city took a substantial hit of $16,000 and the cost of the city to pay for that audit took funds that were desperately needed to maintain our city.”
The group’s website says they are concerned that the city is going downhill.
“Iron Mountain Lake is a wonderful community with beautiful natural resources,” the website states. “However, the city and its amenities have been going downhill and wasting away over the past several years. The roads, bridges, dam and lake are in terrible disrepair. Reviews of the city's records seem to indicate that there are inconsistencies in the finance reporting and the city is not being managed effectively. In fact, it appears that the city is bankrupt.”
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Terpening, who was just reelected, has served on the city board for two years. He said he has seen nothing but transparency from the city in regards to its finances and bookkeeping during his time.
“It would create a negative impact on the city if this petition were to go through,” Terpening added.
In their letter, city officials urge concerned residents to attend the city’s meetings, which are open to the public and are on the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Iron Mountain Lake City Hall.
“At these meetings the city’s finances are openly discussed and approved,” the letter stated.
Terpening said he isn’t sure what the motivation is behind the group. City officials believe the person behind the group owns property in the city but doesn’t live there.
“Nothing has been brought to our attention as far as any specific reasons for this,” Tepening said.
The representative for the group said they are not ready to reveal their identities yet.
“Our identity will stay anonymous for as long as possible due to fear of intimidation, retaliation, vandalism, etc.,” the representative said. “We know that we will not be anonymous forever, but the longer the better.”
Shipping container ordinance passed
The Iron Mountain Lake Board of Alderman passed an ordinance in a special meeting last week to address aesthetic issues in the city.
The ordinance bans shipping containers, as well as a list of other items that could be turned into storage or living quarters.
Included in the ordinance are semi-trailers, box trucks, railroad cars, Conex boxes, and ISO containers, Terpening said.
“The reason that we're doing this is because we just want to make Iron Mountain Lake a little more aesthetically pleasing for people that might be considering (making) this a permanent residence or retirement residence,” Terpening said.
The ordinance includes banning them underground, according to Terpening, because these kinds of containers aren’t built for that kind of pressure and could collapse.
Terpening said it was time for the city to address the issue.
“We've had people in the past bring them in,” he said, “and we've also had some additional people inquiring about bringing them in.”
Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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