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Wednesday, October 28,2009

Across the county

Other Ingham County election news

by City Pulse

Redi Ride up for renewal in Meridian Township


- Meridian Township residents will vote Tuesday on whether to renew a 10-year contract with the Capital Area Transportation Authority for Redi Ride bus service. The proposal was first passed 10 years ago, expanding the frequency of bus routes and introducing the Redi Ride to township residents. The proposal required an increase in the millage rate from 0.194 to 0.2 mills, or 20 cents on each $1,000 of taxable property value.


There is, however, some confusion with the ballot language.


“It copies the exact same wording as it did when it was first passed,” said Draggoo. The copied language is leading some to believe proposal is asking for a new increase in the millage rate. Draggoo confirms, in contrast to this misconception, that this is strictly a renewal of a previously approved contract.


“If (the millage) is passed, nothing will change from what Meridian Township has today. It will continue to get their Redi Ride service at the current rate of 0.2 mills,” she said.



Recall in Leslie


- Onondaga farmer John Ghere has secured two ballot measures to recall Leslie school board members Pat Fogg and Bill Myers, the board’s vice president.


Ghere’s wife said he had no comment on the recall.


Ghere’s ballot language alleges anti-union behavior on the behalf of Fogg of Myers, including failing to reach a contract with the teachers’ union, trying to privatize school services, and “serving the interests of anti-union groups.” The ballot language says that Fogg and Myers tried to lay off teachers, which would cause an increase in unemployment in the Leslie area.


“(Their) actions are in furtherance of (their) own personal agenda and are not in the best interests of the students. (They do) not make (themselves) available to the public to discuss issues,” reads the ballot language, which is the same for both Fogg and Myers. Fogg and Myers did not return a call seeking comment; neither did Leslie board President Randy Sherrell or Superintendent Corey Netzley.



Development issues cause two to oppose East Lansing Council incumbents


- Two newcomers who are upset with the way the city handled recent development projects, including the stalled City Center II, are challenging two East Lansing City Councilmen running for reelection.


City resident Hans Larsen and write-in candidate Phil Bellfy are challenging East Lansing Mayor Victor Loomis and Councilman Kevin Beard.


Beard, 53, was first elected to Council in 2005, and is seeking his second term.


“I think I’ve done a good job in the four years I’ve been here,” Beard said. “We’ve accomplished a number of things, and I think there’s more to do.”


Loomis, who became mayor of East Lansing in 2007 and was first elected in 2001, is running again because he feels the city has achieved a great of “momentum” recently. Loomis, 63, says the single biggest issues facing the city is state revenue sharing cuts, and how that will affect this year’s budget.


“There’s much more to a city and local government than its financial statements, but at the end of the day everyone has to pay their bills,” he said. “One of the challenges we’re going to have is to ensure we maintain our essential services and cost structure at the levels which they exist.”


Larsen, 35, says that if elected he would bring “transparency and honesty to City Council,” seek to remove East Lansing City Manager Ted Staton, and rein in what he sees as “reckless” spending of taxpayer money. Larsen said he decided to run for Council because of issues with the City Center II and East Village developments. Bellfy said City Center II and alleged threats of eminent domain against neighboring property owners upset him and incited him to run for Council. East Lansing city officials deny ever having broached the subject.


Both Loomis and Beard said that the City Center II issue might run out the clock, anyway. On Dec. 17, several permits for the project expire, and the developer is still behind on taxes he owes to the city.


“I have had some discussion and some meetings with other interested parties in that site,” Loomis said. “We have a plan before us that still has some time on it. It’s pretty difficult to do anything when you have a plan you’ve approved and when you’re waiting for thresholds from the developer. If he doesn’t provide necessary documentation by Dec. 17, we will have to analyze where we’re at.”



Okemos Schools look for approval on millage wiggle room


- Residents living in the Okemos School District will be asked to approve a measure that would allow the district to increase the tax rate limit, but it is not a measure that would increase your taxes.


Right now, Okemos schools can collect up to 16 mills — that’s $16 for every $1,000 of taxable property value — but it would like to be able to increase that to 18 mills.


Okemos Super intendent Cheryl Kreger said that voters in no way will be approving a tax increase, but an increase in how much the school district is allowed by state law to collect in taxes.

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