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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Council night

Refinancing bonds, turning over tax-foreclosed properties scheduled for Monday’s City Council meeting

by Andy Balaskovitz

Friday, Nov. 30 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to take up business Monday night that Mayor Virg Bernero says could ultimately save taxpayers up to $4 million by refinancing debt.


The series of bonds being looked at involve financing the city’s sewage disposal system; improvements at Groesbeck Golf Course in 1996; acquiring a parking structure on Townsend Street in 2003; improvements at the city’s operations and maintenance facility; equipment at the Lansing Center; and a new telephone system.


Refinancing could end up saving the city up to $4 million through lower interest payments, Bernero told the Council on Monday.


A few Council members argued with Bernero at Monday’s meeting over the timing of when Council received the request from the Mayor’s Office and when the resolution needs to be passed. Bernero criticized the Council for not holding a Committee of the Whole meeting last week to discuss the resolutions. Council President Brian Jeffries and Councilwoman Carol Wood accused the mayor of rushing the request through and being unrealistic.


More on the politics here.


The Committee of the Whole is scheduled to take up the matter on Monday night. The full Council is scheduled to vote on the two resolutions, assuming they make it out of committee.


In other business, the Council is scheduled to vote on rejecting the transfer of 190 tax-foreclosed properties to the city from the Ingham County Treasurer’s Office. A second resolution rejects the transfer of two vacant lots in Eaton County — those properties would revert back to Eaton County and the state would likely market them for sale.


As part of the foreclosure process, the city can choose whether to take ownership of tax-foreclosed properties that didn’t sell at auction or have them stay under the county’s control.


The thinking behind the annual process is that the city doesn’t have the resources to maintain or market the sale of the properties. Moreover, the Ingham County treasurer can use funds from the Ingham County Land Bank to rehabilitate or demolish structures on certain properties. In Eaton County, the treasurer delegates management of such properties to the state.


Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing said Wednesday during a Council committee meeting that about 80 to 90 structures are slated for demolition. As he told the committee Wednesday: “These are not assets — they’re liabilities.”


The Development and Planning unanimously approved the two resolutions on Wednesday.

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