City Council to Discuss Strategic Priorities and Budget

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 7:44 am
By: 
Chris Root

East Lansing’s City Council will hold a special, four-hour meeting this Sunday morning, December 10, at 9:00 a.m. at the East Lansing Public Library to discuss its strategic priorities for the next two years and next steps on the city budget.

According to the meeting agenda, Dr. Christopher Peterson, Professor of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University, will assist with the discussion of strategic priorities, including an analysis of external trends and influences and what changes are needed in light of this analysis.

After each City Council election, the Council develops a list of priorities, which they review periodically over the next two years. The 2016-18 strategic priorities, adopted on March 15, 2016, contains five sections: Strong Neighborhoods, Vibrant Economy, Enhanced Public Assets, Environmental Preservation, and Engaged Government.

At Sunday’s meeting, following the discussion of priorities, City Manager George Lahanas will make a presentation about next steps on the budget.

Like all City Council meetings, the December 10 meeting is open to the public, and there is an opportunity for public comment.

This Council will have difficult decisions to make over the next several months about what to cut from the budget, given the voters’ rejection of an additional revenue stream from an income tax. The City’s current Budget, Tax Rate, and Fee Schedule for Fiscal Year 2018, runs through June 30, 2018.

Last week, ELi reported that several Council members shared their initial ideas about how to approach making cuts to the budget at the Council meeting on November 21, the first regular meeting after the election. Several Council members said consideration of some new tax revenue source would be on the table, also.

A millage dedicated to a particular purpose (such as infrastructure improvement, paying down legacy costs, or public safety) is a revenue option, as is trying again on an income tax. Any of these new revenue sources would need to be put before voters as ballot questions.

Mayor Mark Meadows told ELi yesterday that he expects these financial issues will also be on the Council’s agenda at the discussion-only meeting on Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 pm.

Considerable information about the City’s financial condition is contained in the wide-ranging reports and recommendations developed by the Financial Health Review Team. Between February and December, 2016, this all-volunteer team met twelve times as a whole committee and 55 times in smaller Work Groups, and they held six public forums.

The Financial Health Team’s reports and recommendations address city services, infrastructure costs, legacy costs and pension and retiree health benefits, revenue options, real property, and development options. Michael Moquin, Chair of the Financial Health Team, presented the Team’s recommendations to the Council on January 17, 2017.

 

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