With a $10 million-plus deficit looming for Lansing, leaders of communities around Lansing expressed some interest Monday in sharing services, like a fire department, with the City of Lansing, and, each other.
Tight budgets aren't exclusive to the City of Lansing; neighboring communities are going through some of the very same issues.
"The lack of money brings people together," Lansing Township Supervisor John Daher said.
Over in Meridian Township, supervisor Susan McGillicuddy agrees.
"We're all looking for efficiencies in our governments," McGillicuddy said.
One way the communities might save some money is by sharing a fire department.
"It's very realistic to see Lansing, Lansing Township, Meridian Township, East Lansing, DeWitt Township, Delta Township, Delhi Township all working together," Daher said.
The idea has been under study for a year. It's an idea that falls under the heading of regionalism, something Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has identified as a priority.
Lansing Township's supervisor says this is the closest the Lansing area has ever been to having a regional fire department. But he says the plan still has a long way to go.
"You get into serious discussions; what stations are going to be mothballed?" Daher said.
Discussions presumably also include what fire chiefs or other personnel might have to lose their jobs.
Some fire departments have questioned how it would affect response times and whether it would save them any money. Looking a few years ahead, McGillicuddy says a regional fire department may not be on the horizon.
"It's hard to see at this point, but I won't say no," McGillicuddy said.
Daher says he's a little more optimistic. Still, he says, the area's not quite ready to move forward on a regional fire department.
"Unfortunately, it's just not there yet. It's not dead it's just a work in progress," Daher said.
City of Lansing Fire Chief Greg Martin has been leading some of the discussion with other chiefs. He directed us to the mayor's office for comment today. That call was not returned.