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Monday, March 18,2013

Millage revisited

City Council appears likely to approve a new ballot proposal on Monday

by Andy Balaskovitz

Friday, Aug. 26
— Look for the Lansing City Council to approve some ballot language at Monday’s
meeting that will ask city voters again to increase the millage rate for
police, fire and road services.



The proposal
would appear on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot and would not go into effect
until the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2012. But for that to happen,
the Council must act by Tuesday, and Monday’s meeting is the last one scheduled
before then.



At this point,
it is unclear what form the millage increase will take. The proposal is in
light of an anticipated $12 million to $15 million budget deficit for the next
fiscal year, the administration said earlier this week.



The Council’s
Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to meet Monday at 6 p.m., one hour before
the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting.



At-Large
Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, who chairs Ways and Means, said Monday that a
second millage proposal is in the works. However, unlike the 4-mill proposed
increase that failed in May 52 percent to 48 percent, Dunbar said she’s
exploring the idea of an “a-la-carte” proposal. That would include separate
ballot questions for 1-mill increases to go toward police, fire and road
services, she said.



However, it is
unclear whether that approach will be legally sound. Another option would be
similar to May’s proposal that had a singular, 4-mill increase for police, fire
and roads.



City Attorney Brig Smith said today, "I am reviewing the possible
options but will not have any comment until Monday."



Ways and Means
is composed of Dunbar, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tina Houghton and 1st
Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt. If a majority of the committee approves a
resolution, it’s then sent on to the full Council for approval. The deadline to
approve ballot language is Tuesday. The Council is not scheduled to vote on any
millage increases during it’s regular meeting, so if anything comes out of Ways
and Means, it would have to be added as a late item to the Council’s agenda.



Dunbar could not
be reached for comment today.



Dunbar’s
comments Monday came shortly after Finance Director Jerry Ambrose alerted
Council of a possible $12 million to $15 million deficit for fiscal year 2013,
which begins July 1, 2012. That projection is based on continued drops in
property tax revenue and increased healthcare costs.

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