Bauer's Replacement Could Decide on Taxes, Golf, Layoffs

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

Joan Bauer is moving on to the state House of Representatives.

"I am just so thrilled that I had the opportunity to serve the city of Lansing on the Lansing City Council," she said Monday.

The person who takes her council seat will face tough decisions.

The city's expecting another budget shortfall: roughly $5 to $10 million dollars this time around, according to Mayor Virg Bernero's office.

The new councilmember will get a say on ways to fill that gap. Potential options include a tax increase, transferring some city golf courses to county control, and laying off city workers.

Bauer was the deciding vote on a compromise budget this past year, a trait her colleagues say she's known for.

"She brought together people and worked to get concensus votes," council Vice President Brian Jeffries said.

Her replacement could be the deciding vote to pass a budget plan more in line with the mayor's likely ideas -- that is, no tax increase, fewer golf courses, and fewer employees.

Or the new councilmember could favor maintaining staff levels, keeping the golf courses and increasing taxes -- setting up another possible budget standoff.

So who will fill the council-appointed seat? Some high-profile names are floating around.

Sources at city hall have named Derrick Quinney of the Michigan AFL-CIO, outgoing State Rep. Mike Murphy (D-Lansing), Lansing Community College Trustee Robin Smith, and south side community organizer Frank Lane as options.

"I'm waiting to see who appears at the interviews," Councilmember Tim Kaltenbach said.

Those interviews will come after the council announces the vacancy, which it hasn't done yet. So who'd Bauer like to see take her seat?

"I look forward to watching that selection process but will not be involved in it," she said.

The mayor says he won't be formally weighing in either, but he didn't like the council's decision to delay the selection process until early next year.

"It's kind of a shame that we couldn't have the person ready to go knowing the vacancy is there," Bernero said.

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