BWL Fees Slammed at Community Budget Forum

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When Paul Johns came to the first Lansing Community Budget Forum, he held the concerns of the Moores Park Neighborhood in his hands.

As the President of the association, he's heard plenty of neighbors who are upset over the potential transfer of fire hydrant and street light fees from the general fund to Board of Water and Light customers.

"People feel like they're going to get double-dipped in the tax area," said Johns. "I thought I was already paying for this service and now I'm being asked to pay for it separate."

It was the top concern at Tuesday's meeting, where community members could give their input on the 2014 budget.

According to Mayor Virg Bernero's budget proposal, the fees would cost each household an average of $46 per year, but save the city an estimated $5.5 million. Money important to city services.

"They value the police and fire services, they value the streets being fixed, they value the snow being plowed in the winter time. They know those things cost money," said Randy Hannan, Mayor Bernero's Chief of Staff.

But for many of those in attendance, it's the latest in a long list of recent fees. Council Vice President A'Lynne Boles Robinson understands.

"Folks just cry uncle and say, 'I've gotta give'," she said. "This is yet another fee and I don't know how I'm going to maintain it."

Boles Robinson says finding another solution is what these meetings are all about.

"That's where we're at, is collecting that type of suggestion from folks," she said.

On the other hand, the Council needs to find that money elsewhere before they say 'no' on the fees.

"If we can't do that, then certainly, it makes sens to go forward with the $5.5 million it represents," said Boles Robinson. "However, if there are other options, it makes sens to look into them."

The next forum will be held Tuesday, May 7th, at the Foster Community Center.

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