Lansing City Council Approves Budget

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

The Lansing City Council voted 5-3 on Monday night to pass their budget, which is largely dependent on getting additional money from the Board of Water and Light.

"I will pull out my veto pen and stamp veto on it and they'll have to start at the drawing board," said Mayor Virg Bernero.

For the mayor, the decision is made. He says he simpy cannot pass a budget with an assumption that BWL is willing to increase the Return on Equity and give the city an extra $1.5 million.

"Their entire increase in spending is based on monopoly money, it's based on fictitious money that isn't there," said Mayor Bernero.

In fact, the mayor feels certain BWL won't be giving the city any more money. However, Councilmember A'Lynne Robinson says increasing the return from BWL is not too much to ask.

"You have the national average above where we're at and other municipalities showing it can be done without putting the company into dire straits," said Councilmember Robinson.

She says some council members will go before BWL on Tuesday to make their sell. Under the council's budget, the additional money will go toward bringing back another two police officers to be added to the nine that's guaranteed in the mayor's budget, two firefighters and reducing furlough days to six.

"The amendments were made in order to hold cuts away from the employees and in order to make sure we have the staffing at the most optimal level that we possibly can," Councilmember Robinson said.

Mayor Bernero proposed a maximum of 26 furlough days. He says without it, unions will have no incentive to negotiate further savings in health care and pension.

"What's eating up the budget is health care and pension. So that's why we built it in the furlough days based on how much concessions we can get. They [council] wiped those incentives out," Mayor Bernero said.

The mayor has until Thursday at 5pm to veto the budget. Council needs six votes to override it.


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