Council Passes Funding Plan for Budget

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The Lansing City Council passed a budget funding plan early Monday evening. The plan would cut roughly one percent of operations funding for most city departments, and using city reserve money, it avoids layoffs of city workers.

The plan will likely be vetoed by the mayor.

The funding fits the budget largely agreed upon over the weekend. That budget restores zoo funds removed in the mayor's budget, as well as enough money to keep all three full-service municipal golf courses open.

Some council members expressed concern about a plan agreed upon late last week that would have cut budgets by roughly 1.5 percent.

The new plan means taking 'more' money from the "rainy day" fund, meaning reserve money not spent by the city in the previous budget. Councilmember Carol Wood and some others on council aren't bothered by it.

"It (the reserve fund) was for an economic slump, to secure services and avoid layoffs. That's what we're using it for," Wood said Monday afternoon.

The council also passed budget policies during an afternoon session, some of which the mayor believes give the council more power to dictate spending policy than they are allowed under the city charter.

"There are policies that seem to tie our hands in terms of carrying out our responsibilities to manage the city," mayoral Chief of Staff Jerry Ambrose said Monday afternoon.

Councilmember Wood says the policies are needed checks-and-balances on the mayor's authority.

But no matter what budget policies are passed and how much "rainy day" fund money is used, the council budget appears destined to meet with the mayor's veto pen.

"The mayor has been clear on that from the beginning. He says the city cannot afford to balance its budget using reserves," Ambrose said.

The mayor has three days to veto the council budget. The eight-member council needs six votes to override that veto.

As of early Monday evening, it's not yet clear whether the new funding plan has that much support from council.