Lansing City Council Approves Amended Budget, 5-3

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It was during a series of amendments by Councilwoman A'Lynne Boles Robinson, Monday night, when the confusion started. Was the budget, passed on Friday by the Lansing City Council, actually balanced?

According to city Finance Director Angela Bennett, it wasn't.

It led to a nearly hour-long recess, as Bennett and the council attempted to get the numbers straight.

"It was a little frustrating," said Councilman Brian Jeffries. "We should've had a lot of that information, I think, at the beginning of the meeting."

After the recess, the council made a series of amendments to the already amended budget to get it balanced. Following two and a half hours of discussion, members voted it through, 5-3. Councilwomen Kathie Dunbar, Tina Houghton and Jessica Yorko voted 'no'.

Even though there were times when nobody seemed to know what was going on, Jeffries says he's happy with the result.

"Everybody kind of spoke their mind in what they thought the priorities were and we came to a consensus," he said.

That consensus included several changes to the mayor's proposed budget, like eliminating the cold case detective and cabinet-level IT position and increasing the BWL payment on equity, in place of street light and fire hydrant fees.

"Overall, we're not far off," said Mayor Virg Bernero, following the meeting. "It's headed in the right direction. Where we disagree, there's fundamental disagreements."

The mayor said he was okay with increasing the BWL payment, which the council originally planned to raise 1.2 percent, bringing in a surplus. Instead the council lowered that number to an undetermined percentage that would balance the budget with no surplus.

On the other hand, the mayor plans to veto cuts to the cold case detective, IT Department and Economic Development Corporation.

Mayor Bernero has until Thursday to veto budget items.

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