Mayor's Corner: Financial Accountability

Financial accountability and wise stewardship of your tax dollars continue to be a fundamental pillar of my administration. As the City of Lakewood enters budget season again this fall, our department chiefs are working diligently with our finance team to align our expected revenues to continue supporting high-quality services and investing in the strategic needs of our community. We all look forward to partnering with Lakewood City Council to allocate a budget that recognizes the fiscal realities we face, yet also continues to position our city for the future and deliver the public services our taxpayers expect and deserve.

With these goals established, it’s also important to acknowledge that the City faces another tight general fund budget and tough choices to make in addressing the capital needs of Lakewood’s aging infra-structure. In doing so, we continue to strategically leverage our federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars and aggressively seek additional grant funding and low interest loans to help mitigate the City’s significant capital burden. Those capital needs include things such as improvements to Winterhurst Ice Rink and the requirement to modernize our sewer and water infrastructure. As the pressures of inflation and ongoing increases to interest rates continue to affect everyone’s bottom line, we at City Hall are more vigilant than ever in carefully planning the budget for this coming year, and we must all be realistic about what is pragmatic to expect.

Around budget time each year, the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office also announces annual awards, and I am thrilled to share that the City of Lakewood has once again achieved the prestigious Auditor of State Award with Distinction. To earn this award, a government entity must achieve a “clean” audit report. That means meeting a number of challenging criteria – everything from a strict adherence to accounting principles and avoiding material deficiencies or weaknesses in reporting to also having no ethics referrals, no financial concerns, and meeting obligations for public meetings and public records standards.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the City of Lakewood has achieved this award from the Ohio Auditor, and once again, most of the credit for this goes to our tremendous team in Lakewood’s finance department. Less than 5% of the of the 6,000 government entities audited in the State of Ohio typically receive this designation, so it shows how hard our finance team is working and how successful they are in keeping your tax dollars accounted for every year. The State Auditor also once again awarded Lakewood its highest rating of four stars for our professionalism in responding to public records requests. We are all very proud of this distinction as well, because it highlights our commitment to transparency in the City’s work.

Congratulations are in order to everyone who plays a role in these successes at City Hall, including the Finance and Law Departments that take the lead on these efforts and also the entire Lakewood administrative team that works seamlessly and cooperatively to provide the financial resources and services that our residents deserve.

Jim O'Bryan

Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.

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Volume 19, Issue 21, Posted 9:45 AM, 11.08.2023