When it comes to Lansing's financial health, former Mayor David Hollister speaks in terms of arrows, which all point in the wrong direction. He says the population and property tax revenue are declining, yet there's an increase in health care and retirement costs.
"Even the best managed city cannot sustain that circumstance. This city will face a crisis probably five to seven years if they do nothing," Hollister said.
According to Hollister, the crisis could be bankruptcy, which means doing nothing is off the table.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero introduced a financial health team, led by Hollister, to recommend changes, possibly starting with local government. Hollister says the current form of local government is antiquated and that needs to change so the city can keep up with an international economy driven by technological innovation.
"You could go to county government. If you really want to be radical, have county school districts," Hollister said.
The idea is to save money through restructuring and sharing services. However, Hollister says these are just preliminary suggestions which may all change as time goes on.
The team will be looking at best practices from around the world and hope to make final recommendations within the next six months.