Lakeland City Manager Shawn Sherrouse points to ceiling damage from roof leaks above the desk of his assistant, Jennifer Stovall. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

With the onset of the rainy season, City Hall is enduring the same leaky roofs as so many home and business owners in Lakeland — and officials are dealing with the same problems of finding a roofer and getting materials.

City Manager Shawn Sherrouse pointed out the discolored tiles over his desk and his assistant’s — Jennifer Stovall — noting that they both have to place buckets and trash cans on their desks when they leave for the weekend or know it’s going to rain a lot.

“We had to replace my furniture after Hurricane Ian,” Sherrouse said, adding that water leaked in and soaked the carpet in his office “from the window to the door — about 12 feet.”

Sherrouse told city commissioners at Friday morning’s agenda study that the roof over his office, on the third floor of a newer annex building, is 30 years old and has multiple components from various different work over the years.

“So this is a definite need,” Sherrouse said. “There has been some work that’s been done recently to try to remedy that, at least for the short term, until we can have this project completed … We’re moving quickly on this project for the reasons that I mentioned a moment ago because of some of the damage that is just from the age of the roof and also from damages that are still, you know, a continuing issue since the hurricane.”

But this isn’t just any roof.  In addition to a multi-ply, modified membrane, some gravel areas, and even copper in some spots, the city has to match the historic, Spanish-style clay roof that covers the original City Hall, built in 1927, and the 40,000-square-foot annex that was added in 1990.

The tile manufacturer doesn’t produce the tile until it is ordered and then there is a 40-week wait for delivery.

It took officials a while to find a roofer. Facilities Manager Richard Baker said six roofing contractors showed up to look at the project, but only one submitted a bid: R.F. Lusa and Sons Roofing and Sheet Metal.  

“It’s getting harder and harder to get bids,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of work out there and a lot of people are just busy.”

Mayor Bill Mutz also noted a new immigration-related law championed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and passed by the Florida legislature will affect the roofing industry.

Starting on Saturday, all Florida businesses with 25 or more employees must use E-Verify to confirm whether prospective employees are eligible to work in the U.S. Any company that knowingly hires undocumented immigrants faces stiff penalties and possible suspension and revocation of employer licenses.

“In Florida, because of the illegal alien legislation that’s taken place, roofing, drywall, framing — we’re going to have less employees available to do that work and that’s going to add an additional slowdown because they’ve left,” Mutz said.

The contract is for $1.116 million and includes all labor, material, equipment, supervision, and administration. Baker said once the materials are on hand, it will take about a year to complete the project.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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