EAST LANSING, Mich. – East Lansing City Council will be hosting a third community engagement meeting on the City of East Lansing’s budget priorities on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6:30- 8 p.m. at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road. All community members are welcome to attend, whether they attended one of the first meetings or not.
During the meeting, Public Sector Consultants will share the results of the survey that community members filled out at the previous community engagement meetings and online. Additionally, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas will discuss potential cuts over the next two fiscal years and provide additional information about the potential new revenue options that East Lansing City Council will be considering. There will also be opportunities for community members to provide additional feedback.
“We were pleased with the turnout at our first two meetings and we received a lot of great input from community members. This third meeting will provide us with an opportunity to share that community input and hear more from residents on our next steps,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas.
East Lansing City Councilmembers will be in attendance and look forward to hearing additional feedback from community members. City Council will be considering potential cuts during the regular Fiscal Year 2019 budget preparation process and will also be considering new revenue options during a public hearing at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in Courtroom 2 of the East Lansing 54B District Court, 101 Linden St.
The City of East Lansing has and continues to face significant financial challenges as a result of decreased revenue sharing from the state over the past 16 years, tight state restrictions on the ability of local governments to raise new revenue, the ongoing impact of the drop in property values as a result of the recession and Proposal A/Headlee limits, low taxable value per capita, legacy costs (which have increased due to the recession and below-average market returns; the City’s pension obligations were 80% funded in 2003 and they are 53% funded today) and the ongoing need to renew aging infrastructure. It’s important to note that the City has had no growth in revenue in a decade. The percent change from 2006 to 2017 is -1.4 percent.
Steps taken to address the City’s financial challenges over the years include decreasing the overall size of government (elimination of 130+ positions since 2007), restructuring pension and retirement benefits for employees, consolidating and restructuring City departments, creating a Healthcare Task Force to keep rising healthcare costs at a minimum, adding 2 mills to the East Lansing Public Library operating budget, sharing services with neighboring municipalities and making other strategic cost-cutting decisions across all City departments.
Despite these steps, the City’s challenges have persisted and Council will be looking at a range of options moving forward. These options could include a reduction in services, the addition of new revenue or a combination of both.