Lansing Faces Nearly $5 Million Budget Deficit

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Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero released an outline of his budget for the upcoming fiscal year and it's a mix of good and bad news.

The city is facing a $4.7 million budget deficit, which could've been $12 million if voters didn't pass the millage.

"This year we have the additional help of the police and fire millage. Actually, we'll be able to strengthen public safety," said Mayor Bernero.

Police and fire departments are safe from cuts. The bad news is other city employees will have to help fill that budget gap.

"One of the things that will continue to show up in this budget as they have in the past few years is furlough days," Mayor Bernero said.

For the past 11 years, Lansing resident Rusty Smith has worked for the city as a seasonal worker. He says they already took furlough days last year. If he gets his old job back this year, like many other city employees, he may have to take on a reduced schedule again.

"Some things you just got to cut back on, like electricity," Smith said.

The city's income from property taxes is still down and the mayor says some cuts are necessary to balance the budget. Other than furlough days, he will also negotiate with unions to have city employees contribute more to healthcare.

"Currently we have the burden of quite a bit of our healthcare cost at this point," said Stan Shuck, vice chair of UAW Local 2256, the union representing city employees.

Shuck says they are willing to talk to city administration to find a solution, but without any details on the mayor's proposal, he couldn't say how the union will respond.

Bernero pointed out the long term outlook for Lansing's economy is positive, but for now, the money has not yet arrived in the city coffers.

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