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Monday, March 18,2013

Kids in the Hall

Another millage increase is in the works for the next fiscal year. Red Cedar plan now up to voters.

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Aug. 22 — Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar said tonight that the Council will attempt within the next week to draft ballot language asking voters again to approve a millage increase for police, fire and roads services Nov. 8.

This proposal would differ from the one Lansing voters rejected on May 3, Dunbar said, and wouldn’t take effect until the next fiscal year.

Instead of a 4-mill increase for police, fire and road services that 52 percent of Lansing voters turned down in May, Dunbar said it will be an “a-la-carte” proposal that will include separate resolutions for each department. In other words, one mill for police, one mill for fire and one mill for roads, all to be voted on separately.

The millage increase wouldn’t take effect until fiscal year 2013 on July 1, 2012.

The Council must act quickly. The deadline for approving ballot language is Aug. 30. The Council’s next scheduled meeting is Aug. 29. Dunbar said she will attempt to convene a Ways and Means Committee meeting, which she chairs, Thursday.

Dunbar detailed the plans shortly after Finance Director Jerry Ambrose offered a grim fiscal year 2013 outlook during the Council's Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

Ambrose said the administration is anticipating a $12 million to $15 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, which starts in about 10 months. That projection is based on continued drops in property tax revenue and increased healthcare costs.

Council President A’Lynne Robinson asked Ambrose if the fiscal year 2013 details meant that the administration was recommending “another swipe at the apple.” Ambrose said the administration would be “more than happy” to discuss asking city voters again to raise property taxes.

In other business, the Council voted 6-2 to approve ballot language that will seek voter permission Nov. 8 to sell off 12.68 acres of the former Red Cedar Golf Course for redevelopment. Council members Brian Jeffries and Eric Hewitt voted against the proposal.

If voters approve the land sale in the Nov. 8 General Election, the Lansing Economic Development Corp. will coordinate a public Request for Proposals from interested developers.

For more on the administration-backed Red Cedar Renaissance plan, read Wednesday’s City Pulse.

A second ballot proposal to sell off more than 100 acres of city parkland in Lansing Township, which wasn’t tied to redevelopment plans, failed 3-5. That proposal sought to sell off the former Waverly Golf Course and adjacent Michigan Avenue Park. Council members Derrick Quinney, Carol Wood, Hewitt, Robinson and Jeffries voted against that plan.

In other ballot proposal news, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution (basically, a formality) that asks voters Nov. 8 if they want a general revision of the City Charter. The Charter, which was established in 1978, asks voters every 12 years after the 1987 election if they’d like a general revision of the Charter.

In other business, the Council introduced an ordinance that would grant a fee waiver for certain service organizations. A nonprofit group seeking to establish itself as a service organization in the city may have the $100 fee to do so waived if it has less than $2,500 in assets.

In other business, the Council approved two resolutions paying tribute to St. Andrew Dung-Lac Catholic Church’s open house celebration and installation of its new pastor, the Rev. Joseph Sy Kim, as well as recognizing Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson on being awarded the Eastside Community Action Center’s 2011 Community Champion.


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