Lansing Council Holds Budget Hearing, Talks BWL Fees

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Listening to those who came out to the first Lansing budget hearing, it's clear what part of the mayor's budget they don't like.

"We cannot continue to absorb the costs of keeping the city running," said Kathi Raffone.

Last week, Mayor Virg Bernero recommended the city no longer pay the Board of Water and Light out of the general fund for the use of fire hydrants and street lights.

Instead he suggested adding the costs to the utility bills of customers saying, it would save the city more than $5 million, costing those who live there an extra $46/year.

The extra fee was the big topic of discussion, Monday night.

"When we first heard it, what we were looking at was the idea that there was a flat fee that everyone was going to be charged," said Council President, Carol Wood. "Now, it sounds like it's based on usage."

According to Chief Operating Officer Chad Gamble, the fee will vary based on how much a customer already pays in utilities. Wood says the fee brings with it a lot of questions.

"I think we're going have to bring the Board of Water and Light people in and have a discussion to see how they figured the measurements on this," she said.

Councilman Brian Jeffries says there is concern that another fee increase could cause people to leave the city, but knows the alternative could be worse.

"In essence, it's gonna be a tax increase," he said. "We have a structural deficit that we need to fix and we have a certain level of services and police and fire and roads that we need to maintain."

That's why this is just the beginning of the conversation.

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