New Councilmember Discusses Taxes, Golf, City Jobs

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Lansing City Councilmember-to-be Derrick Quinney was settling in to his new office and his new job Friday.

"Filling out paperwork," he said. "Getting keys and the like."

The onetime Fisher Body plant employee is set to be formally appointed Monday. Quinney, whose full-time job is as health official with the Michigan AFL-CIO, says the city council has a role to play in the dramatic change underway in the local economy.

"Offering opportunities for businesses to come here," Quinney said. He says the city needs to work to build a better workforce.

Quinney will fill this now-open seat on the council as the city grapples with another multi-million dollar budget deficit.

That means he'll play a role in deciding whether to raise taxes or cut down on city services and jobs.

"I think we have to put everything out and look at it all," Quinney said.

With the possible exception, he says, of police and fire. The lifelong Lansing resident says a tax increase should be open to discussion and cuts, if they need to happen, should be across most all departments.

But he says he'd rather not lay off city workers.

"I'm certainly not in favor of that," Quinney said.

That stance, plus his openness to a tax increase could put the councilmember-to-be at odds with Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and make for a more contentious budget process.

The mayor has said shedding city jobs may be necessary and he's opposed a tax increase. And what about city golf courses?

"I would certainly support making it a ballot initiative, and letting the public decide on those kinds of things," Quinney said.

So far, the public hasn't decided on his candidacy. The council recommended Quinney for the job.

He says when the seat comes up for election in November, he will seek the voters' approval for another term.