LANSING - Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero announces his plan for giving non-Lansing resident customers a voice at the Board of Water and Light, and clarify what authority his office has over the BWL in a crisis.
Friday Mayor Bernero stated that he will propose to city council an amendment to the city's charter that would create three new non-voting members on the BWL Board of Commissioners. Two of the new members would represent East Lansing and Delta township and serve 4 year terms. The third member would rotate among Delhi, Meridian, Dewitt and Lansing Townships on an annual basis. Each town would be able to appoint their own representative to the board, provided that the appointee meets all other charter requirements for membership on a city board or commission.
In a statement to WILX, Bernero says, "This is a significant step forward in providing customers within the BWL service territory a stronger voice in the governance of Lansing's public utility." The members are non-voting, which the mayor said he recognizes will not sit well with some. "Because these customer communities do not have an ownership stake in the BWL, I cannot justify giving them voting privileges, but I do see considerable merit in having them at the table to strengthen lines of communication and help make the BWL more responsive to their concerns."
Bernero's proposed charter amendment will be sent to the Lansing City Council within the next two weeks. He hopes to have the proposal placed on this coming November's ballot.
The mayor also said he will propose changes to the city charter, and, if needed, state law to fulfill a recommendation by the Community Review Team to expanding the mayor's powers over the BWL during a natural disaster or emergency. The Community Review Team report notes that Lansing's Emergency Management Ordinance already expands the powers of the mayor during an emergency, including the authority to relieve city employees of normal duties and temporarily reassign them to other duties, but that authority could be expanded to include the Board of Water and Light. The mayor has asked City Attorney Janene McIntyre to draft specific language for changes to the charter that will be needed to implement the Community Review Teams recommendations.