Former Lakeland officials speak out in support of school bond referendum

Monday afternoon, the Concerned Citizens for Lakeland group issued the following in support of the school bond referendum, signed by former mayors, vice mayors and commissioners:

“The below signed former Lakeland elected officials have come together for the welfare of our wonderful city. While we realize the importance of having our own municipal schools, we must weigh the consequences of precipitously providing those schools at this early date, due to the lack of sales-tax-producing businesses, infrastructure, and the lack of rooftops and population.

“As former elected Lakeland public servants with decades of combined experience in Lakeland, we feel we must speak up in the best interest of our city’s future by drawing upon our knowledge of past successes and failures so as to avoid mistakes and errors, which we believe await us if the city were to follow the premature steps now being planned.

“Last year, Lakeland citizens elected the present administration and we respect the choice made by the majority. However, when we sense that a decision is being made that will negatively affect our entire community, we must speak out to urge the Board of Commissioners reconsider its decision to enter into a $50,000,000.00 (fifty million dollar) bond debt issue. This will affect Lakeland for many years to come and every Lakeland resident, landowner and business owner will be forced to pay much larger annual taxes that will deter Lakeland’s future economic development, growth and success. (This bond amounts to roughly $10,000 to $20,000 per household.)

“There are many departments of the city that need attention, including our newly formed municipal school system. Rather than dredging up and arguing over possible mistakes of the past we want to focus on Lakeland’s future. Our city has great potential if managed properly and we should all be concerned and understand that if the city of Lakeland fails, everyone fails and everyone is penalized.

“We ask every Lakeland citizen to sign the petition for a referendum vote on the school bond issue. Instead of acting in haste, let us consider the will of the citizens and move ahead calmly in planning effectively and efficiently for the best schools without risking costly mistakes.

“By all of us focusing on Lakeland’s future, we will have a successful outcome.”

Signed by:

  • J. Scott Carmichael, commissioner and vice-mayor, 1997-2001; mayor. 2001-2013; retired Navy commander; and businessman
  • James P. “Jim” Bomprezzi Sr., commissioner, 1995-97; mayor 1997-2001; and retired police lieutenant, criminal investigator and commercial real estate broker
  • Nina H. Griffin, commissioner and vice mayor, 1997-2001; lifelong Lakeland resident; and charter Commission Incorporation founder 1977
  • John R. Wilkerson, commissioner, 1997-99; retired certified public accountant; and former Republican executive committeeman for Tennessee’s District 32 for 1982-2013
  • Gerrit L. Verschuur, Ph.D., commissioner, 2001-2005, 2007-2009, and 2011-2013; author; and astrophysicist