Mayor Presses Merging EL and Lansing

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

"If Lansing and East Lansing were to merge, at some point in time, we wouldn't be twice the city. We'd be 10 times the city," Mayor Virg Benero says, eyes gleaming with excitement.

He's a man who's been known to speak his mind, and on it right now, is a radical solution to make the region stronger.

"This is the ultimate thinking outside the box," he says. "Sometimes the solution is right under your nose."

Merging cities he says would give us clout at the capital, a broader appeal to business and a younger generation, a consolidation of services that would be ideal for taxpayers.

"If we're honest with the public, we would save millions of dollars, Bernero points out.

He's made that case to both the Lansing Rotary Club and the East Lansing Rotary Club this month.

"We'd be open to consolidation at a future point in time," East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh says, but not yet.

He says Lansing's unfunded liabilities with pensions and healthcare are a burden he doesn't see East Lansing willingly taking on. "He's really got to get his shop in order," Singh says.

The mayor agrees, and would like to pursue this question in the next couple of years. Singh sees a timeline of more like ten years.

Singh and Bernero agree there are things the cities can merge now, like the dive team, combined earlier this year. Fire and police consolidation would be a conversation both support.

As for the politics of this merger debate, Bernero is putting speculation about his ambition to rest.

"I'm happy to put it in writing, to state flat out, I wouldn't run for the mayor of the combined entity," he pledges. "It's that important."

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  • by EL resident on Jun 28, 2007 at 03:42 PM
    A merger could have a negative impact on property value and increase other expenses...e.g., home owners insurance - EL is lower than Lansing b/c Lansing has more fires, arson. Also, for any capital projects would cost EL residents more because I would assume the bond rating would decrease when compared to the current rating. I would assume that a merger would decreaes the number of police and firefighters per person, less money per person spent on the arts/cultural events, roads, etc. As pointed out in another post about the plowing of the street during winter, when driving you can tell when you enter Lansing because the quality of the road are worse more pot holes and like a wash board and during winter snowy and icy. If EL residents wanted to live in Lansing, they would be living there right now. So I guess there was a reason why people choice to live in EL versus Lansing.
  • by Tim Location: East Lansing on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM
    Impeach Virg... Compared to Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo the city of Lansing is a complete eyesore and has way to many problems to list here. They can't even get the streets clean in the summer and plowed in the winter. Yet they deduct an extra payroll tax to live in that city. I would never want to have a Lansing mailing address. Call me uppity but my taxes and lack of crime on my street afford me that luxury.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 28, 2007 at 10:41 AM
    It is all ego for Bernero! East Lansing is great without him. So is all the other surrounding communities. For us living outside the city of Lansing we do not want to be a part of his ideas. Let him work on his on city issues and stop spending time of trying to merge with other cities.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 28, 2007 at 09:15 AM
    I have some insight for Mr. Benero he can use for the City of Lansing. How about bringing higher level jobs to lansing and stop opening up cash advance stores, dollar stores, and fast food stores in Lansing. The city needs to become diversified with the employment.
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