Proposal: Increase BWL User Fees to Fill Budget Gap

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Maintaining street lights and fire hydrants is an expensive job. Now, the Lansing Board of Water and Light is paid $5.5 million a year to get it done. The City of Lansing pays for the service out of its general fund, which is millions of dollars in the hole for the upcoming fiscal year. The financial health team suggested a solution to save the general fund and put the cost directly on customers' bills.

"Most people's property tax have actually gone down so they're not going to see an increase in cost, it's simply a shift in how it's paid for and frees that money then to do police protection, fire protection," said leader of the Financial Health Team and former Lansing Mayor David Hollister.

If this recommendation is adopted, the average rate hike per family is about $46 per year, less than $4 a month. However, the increase on businesses, depending on the size, can be around $1300. Any rate change must be approved by the BWL Board of Commissioners. Chair Sandy Zerkle says they haven't taken a stance on whether to support or object this suggestion.

"We can't really act on anything until we actually get a proposal from the city if that's what they want to do," Zerkle said.

However, Hollister says the city must find different ways to do business and to replace the revenue lost from property taxes.

"If people choose not to do this, we got to find an additional $5 million in cuts."

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