Financial Health Team Suggests BWL Sale, Mayor Says 'No'

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

It was a message heard loud and clear during Mayor Virg Bernero's State of the City address, Monday. Selling the Board of Water and Light is not an option to help balance the budget.

"I want to just be clear. That's not going to happen. Not on my watch," said the Mayor.

For the city's financial health team, led by former mayor David Hollister, it was a cue to look elsewhere for the money, both now and in the future. A disappointment for Hollister, who says the BWL is one of Lansing's best assets and that selling it would help Lansing overcome some major financial hurdles.

"It would generate millions of dollars. That would allow for the funding of the retirement system, the health care system," said Hollister.

Mayor Bernero agrees that the BWL is an asset and that's why, he says, he will never allow it to be sold.

"It helps keep rates reasonable," said Bernero. "Our rates are ten, 15 percent lower than anywhere else because it's a publicly owned utility."

City Council President Carol Wood says she agrees with the mayor.

"You are having a one-time flow of money coming. That might meet an immediate need, but over the long run, I think it could be detrimental to the city," said Wood.

Councilman Brian Jeffries also said he disagrees with selling the Board of Water and Light. In addition to low rates, he says Lansing gets five percent of the company's revenue, each year, and the city would lose that revenue, if the BWL were sold to a private utility company.

Still, Hollister says the funding model for cities is broken and even though no one on the team wants to sell the BWL, Lansing will have to make these tough decisions in the future.

"The issues aren't going to go away," said Hollister. "If the option is bankruptcy, it might come back even then."

Hollister estimates selling the Board of Water and Light would bring more than $100 million into the city.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by mike Location: lansing on Jan 30, 2013 at 01:47 PM
    If you do enough wrong,given enough time something right has to happen,but its to late he has to go.
  • by Steve Location: Dewitt on Jan 30, 2013 at 07:39 AM
    "Financial Health team"? Is this the same team that is composed of Hollister and Ambrose, Two guys that are drawing multiple pensions and have free health care for life after less than 10 years of service in the city? ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
  • by C. H. Haas Location: Holt on Jan 30, 2013 at 07:31 AM
    I think the Mayor is absoutely correct in opposing the sale of the Board of Water and Light. Controlling the cost of power is a key issue in attracting industry to mid Michigan.For profit investors who would buy the Board would through necessity raise power costs to all. Hang tough Mr. Mayor.
  • by Joann Location: Baumann on Jan 30, 2013 at 04:31 AM
    I so would never vote for Bernero UNTIL I got this news. It is practically a miracle a city of this size has it's own energy system. This is one of the very best things about this city and should never be let go. THANK Bernero for not even entertaining the thought!
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