After months of meetings and talks, the Lansing Financial Health Team finalised a sweeping plan to improve city finances. Former Mayor David Hollister says if no improvements are made, the city could be insolvent in five to seven years, but admits the proposed changes won't be easy and he expects to face some tough resistance.
"Anyone impacted by change will oppose but I'm not discouraged by that," said Hollister.
Part of the recommendation deals with legacy costs and restructuring the city's retiree pension and healthcare system. According to Dr. Eric Scorsone, member of the financial health team, Lansing owes $450 million in retiree healthcare liability.
The team also recommended expanding regionalism, meaning merging services with other departments in the area to save money. They suggested merging Ingham County courts and selling the city hall property, while recommending the city increase funding for technology and the rainy day fund.
"We call it Lansing 2.0. We're no longer going to do more with less, we're going to do less with less... there are some tough and major changes that will challenge the mayor and council to adopt," said Hollister.
Mayor Virg Bernero says he hasn't seen the final report yet, but understand there will be some "tough medicine" in the report. He says it's not just about survivability, but the goal is to thrive. He is expected to include some of the recommendations in his budget for short term improvements in the upcoming fiscal year.
"However a lot of these are longer term and some of the biggest challenges we face, I believe, Lansing can't fix alone...some of the big changes are regional and will require a regional focus," said Mayor Bernero.