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Monday, March 18,2013

Kids in the Hall

The mayor’s budget recommendation for fiscal year 2013

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, March 26 — Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero made his annual budget presentation tonight to the City Council and he’s calling for furlough days or negotiating lower pension and healthcare obligations to help close a $4.7 million budget deficit.

The administration is requesting non-emergency personnel take 26 furlough days to save an estimated $1 million. Bernero noted that if employees are willing to negotiate cost savings in pension and healthcare costs, that furlough days could be eliminated. Funding pensions and retiree healthcare is expected to continue to draw $2 million a year from the General Fund for the next two fiscal years.

Unlike last year’s budget, Bernero’s recommendation calls for no employee layoffs.

Along with $1 million in savings, the city projects generating $3 million to $3.5 million more in annual revenue through a new 10-year Return on Equity agreement with the Lansing Board of Water & Light.

While the initial deficit projection was between $12 million and $15 million, Lansing voters approved a millage in November, dedicating $7.6 million in new revenue for public safety and decreasing the deficit. The $111.9 million budget for fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1, is an $8 million increase from last year, largely due to the millage. Millage money would be used to bring back seven police officers; police car radar units, printers and modems; renovations to the South Washington Office Complex, which would become the new police headquarters; a new ambulance; and local street repairs and maintenance.

Other cost savings are projected to come from opening up mowing work on a competitive basis; sending economic development services to the Lansing Economic Area Partnership that was once done through the Lansing Economic Development Corp.; fee increases; and reorganizing a portion of the Finance Department to be housed under the Public Service Department.

Bernero’s presentation tonight kicks off the roughly two-month budget process, ending in the Council’s adopting a final budget resolution in May. Last year, the Council adopted a budget that had no changes from what Bernero recommended.

Council President Brian Jeffries said tonight that Committee of the Whole will meet each week between now and May 14 to discuss the mayor’s recommendation.
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