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Is audit in Lake Geneva’s future?

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Kayla Bunge
May 11, 2010
— The Lake Geneva City Council in two weeks could decide if the city should be subject to an audit as requested by more than 400 residents.

City Clerk Diana Dykstra late Friday afternoon certified a petition for direct legislation that calls for an independent and comprehensive audit of city finances.


Barbara Hartke, who circulated the petition as part of her campaign for District 2 alderwoman, on April 26 submitted a petition with 442 signatures, 121 more than the 321 required to put the request for an audit on an upcoming council agenda. Dykstra determined 432 signatures were valid.


The request will be on the city council agenda Monday, May 24.


The petition calls for:


-- A moratorium on nonemergency spending and promises of contractual monetary obligations until the city can guarantee it has enough money to cover such actions.


-- An independent and comprehensive audit of city finances, including auxiliary agencies


Hartke previously has told the Gazette that having such an audit is smart and responsible.


She has said the city relies only on the annual audit, which is mandated by state law and has been done by the same local accounting firm for years. She has said many municipalities undergo comprehensive audits by independent firms every few years to ensure finances are being handled properly.


“Any municipality worth its salt and anyone elected to municipal government should call for it,” she told the Gazette in March. “(This kind of audit) looks for bad habits, irregularities, etc. And if the auditors find things, they broaden their search and dig deeper. … This is absolutely overdue and has to come now.”


City Attorney Dan Draper has a concern about the request.


He said petitions for direct legislation must be legislative, not administrative in nature. He said he has done only preliminary research on the issue, but he has found that court cases have classified legislative petitions as more permanent and administrative requests as more temporary.


“I haven’t made any determination whether the petition falls in either category,” he said.


Draper this week is working on a memo to the city council that explains the matter.


The council in two weeks could approve the petition for an audit, reject the petition and send the request to referendum or do nothing.



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