Cities Want More Revenue Sharing In State Budget

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Revenue sharing took a back seat to other issues in the Governor's budget.

The money that cities and local governments get to help pay for police and fire - among other things - isn't being cut, but it's not being increased either.

They're expecting the same amount as last year about $225 million, and the constitutionally required amount went up about 4 percent to $743 million. Total revenue sharing amounts to $1.1 billion.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said he breathed a sigh of relief, but that doesn't mean he's celebrating.

"State government has essentially borrowed from local government for years," Mayor Bernero said. "They have used us, they have busted into the piggy bank, and we've been that piggy bank, and we're feeling the effects, we're showing it."

Mayor Bernero said if it wasn't for years of revenue sharing cuts, Lansing would be facing a $2 million deficit this year instead of $9 million. Meanwhile, neighbor East Lansing has lost out on about $13 million in the last decade.

"We feel real pressure to have to make end's meet to balance our budget, and that has involved in our case a reduction in services, a reduction in staff levels," East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said.

One way East Lansing and Lansing cut locals costs is by sharing a fire chief for the past year, a plan that's set to continue. Lansing's Assistant Fire Chief said they've made the best of the situation.

"We've learned so much about each other, and there are some great ideas and thoughts coming out of it," Assistant Fire Chief Trent Atkins said.

More public safety consolidation is expected, and about $7 million has been earmarked in the state budget for those community grants. City officials say communities working together is the silver lining here.

"There's no question that we have been innovative and inventive, and more entrepreneurial than ever, and we will have to continue to be," Mayor Bernero said.

It's not a cut this time around, but it still might not be enough.

"The state needs to do a lot more if the governor and legislature honestly believe that cities are a key component of Michigan's economic recovery," Mayor Pro Tem Triplett said.

Governor Snyder didn't say whether cities shouldn't be disappointed with the revenue sharing, he just pointed out that the required amount increased and the rest stayed the same.

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