LAKELAND, Tenn. — Lakeland Mayor Mike Cunningham called the state for a full forensic audit of every city department and the school board after he found “numerous questionable financial anomalies” in city records.
Cunningham made the announced at the end of the Lakeland commissioner’s meeting Thursday night.
“Based on my findings the chips will fall where they may but form this point forward my administration will start with a clean slate and I will not be held accountable for another that was done prior to me taking office,” said Cunningham during his statement.
But commissioners said they were blindsided by this request.
“It could have been handled differently in executive session and we could have discussed it and then released the findings,” said Commissioner Wesley Wright.
Wright said he hasn’t seen these records and he’s not the only one.
In a statement to FOX13, Lakeland Superintendent Dr. Ted Horrell said the district has had four annual audits which have been clean. Horrell said he wants the mayor to share examples of “anomalies” with them so they can be corrected.
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Recently, the board of commissioners approved a resolution to study funding proposals for building a new high school. Mayor Cunningham has been opposed to this idea in the past.
It’s unclear if the investigation is connected to those ongoing discussions but Wright believes it could be.
“If he’s trying to get a high school built anytime soon, this is not the way to do it,” he said. “If your objective is to slow down the chances of building a high school, you’re getting it done because this doesn’t help.”
FOX13’s Kirstin Garriss called, emailed and texted Mayor Cunningham for an on-camera interview on Friday. He sent her a message saying his statement from the night before “speaks for itself.” When
FOX13 asked Cunningham to explain these anomalies and if this investigation was connected to discussions about the new high school, he didn’t respond.
The audit will start with the comptroller’s office in Nashville but if there are any violations of state criminal law, the Shelby County District Attorney’s office will get involved.
Commissioner Wright said these kinds of audits cost as much as $100,000 and in this case, this is would be taxpayer dollars going toward the process.
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