Lansing Deals With Drastic Cuts

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Lansing voters have spoken and they don't want a tax increase. Instead, dozens of police and firefighters will be laid off. It's an outcome that city leaders did not want but now are forced to decide what happens next.

Layoffs are coming; dozens to police and fire.

"Now we're facing the worst case scenario," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. "We will pick up the pieces and we will do the best we can with what we have."

Picking up the pieces includes looking more seriously now at the all-cuts budget that Mayor Bernero proposed in March --- upwards of 100 police officers and firefighters combined with three fire stations potentially closing.

Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski says response times will be inevitably impacted and another concern is not only safety of civilians but also officers who will not have the same number of officers to rely on for backup. But the chief insists that the police department can still be depended on in an emergency. "We will come when you call [but] it might take a little bit longer."

Some city leaders say the real issue on the ballot was the economy, not the millage.

"When you look at millage issues it usually turns out to be about the pocketbook," said Lansing city councilman Brian Jeffries. "During these hard economic times people are trying to figure out if they'll have a job tomorrow let alone having to pay these phenomenally high gas prices and increasing groceries."

The police officer's union says the absentee voters, those who had their minds made up early, were the ones who tipped the scale. Without them, they say the millage would have passed.

"I think as more people got information as the election date drew near, I think the votes for it increased," said Bernero. "I think it was gaining momentum but the absentee votes that were cast earlier in the time period, canceled it out."

Layoffs will be effective July 1st, but union contracts require 30 days notice. In the meantime, both police and fire are hoping for more concessions to reduce the number that are laid off, and council now has to deal with a budget with no plan B.

"I don't think council's really been focused on what if it fails then what are the other choices," said Jeffries.

A tough job ahead with tough cuts in a very tight time frame. City council has less than two weeks to pass a balanced budget.

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  • by RT Location: Lansing on May 7, 2011 at 08:39 AM
    I'll add my two cents to this discussion. Personally, I don't care what city service has to be cut nor do I care which city employee has to be laid-off. My taxes are too high and I'll vote against any effort to increase them.
  • by You have to be kidding on May 6, 2011 at 10:29 AM
    Please don't lame the abestee votes for the millage not passing. It's because Lansing homeowners cann't afford any more. Some of us have seen the waste in city government. Like city trucks parked for 3 hours on deadend side streets, while the driver snoozes. Cuty workers going to gun and knife shows on city time. Yard waste not being picked up, and streets not cleaned. Gun fights in the middle of a street and the police never came. There is a lot more than this, so when the city cleans up their act, as uses the money they already get wisely maybe then city homeowners will see the need to give them more money. The city needs to get rid of the dead wood.
  • by Anonymous on May 6, 2011 at 06:36 AM
    People are tired of years of mismanagement of funds. Increasing tax should be done when people want to improve things and they know it is the only option. There are small districts that have higher tax rates than Lansing but they are thriving. The reason why they are thriving is that they know how to manage a tight budget and are frugal in spending.
  • by Anonymous on May 5, 2011 at 07:03 AM
    Let's blame the failed millage request on those casting absentee votes. They are most likely to be older people who are living on a limited income. If Virg still thinks we need a tax increase, then he should increase the millage up to the 20 mill maximum and pay the political price. If only there were 600 plus police and fire voters in Lansing they could of changed the outcome of this election. Virg needs to review Lansings expenses and income and start living within his means like the rest of us taxpayers are forced to do every day.
  • by Anonymous on May 4, 2011 at 11:32 PM
    Virg, Cut the DOT division. He puts a bad spin on Lasing and a real bad taste in VOTERS mouths. If you would only listen to the small businesses that he is targeting. He targets businesses that VOTE and have the power to persuade the Vote (as we did May 3rd). Never a fixit ticket, check his records. 18 tickets on stops. This is ridiculous and needs to stop. Just because no one liked the guy as a kid does not mean he needs use his power and beat on businesses. This guy is the reason good cops get bad raps from the citizens. The DOT Gestapo, driving around in his big suburban, doing 3 hour inspections on the side of the road, MUST go, and the small businesses will not stop until he is removed from his position and taken off the road and put on admin duty. This guy needs full time supervision, just review his record or ask his ex-wives. This guy is dangerous. CONTROL DOT or Verg is next to go. One way or another the DOT will be defeated, The small businesses have banded together
  • by will on May 4, 2011 at 08:03 PM
    very sad to hear that the proposal got turned down crime is allredy raiseing takeing cops off the street is a terrible idea
  • by ak Location: lansing on May 4, 2011 at 06:51 PM
    How about some cuts at city hall? The mayor's office? City attorney office? Oh sorry God forbid the overpaid elite downtown be asked to sacrifice anything
    • reply
      by Vicki on May 5, 2011 at 07:07 AM in reply to ak
      I agree with all of you. I just don't get it. VERG NEEDS TO RAISE SALES TAX SO THAT EVERYONE PAYS, and cut out welfare. 99.9 % of the people on welfare abuse it. The sell bridge cards for whatever, I see this. Why has VERG never given this any thought. He just continues to CUT. Is he a dumb man?
      • reply
        by B J on May 5, 2011 at 06:32 PM in reply to Vicki
        Either Vicki doesn't understand that the state puts sales tax on, not the city, bridge cards are state, not city and welfare is a state program, not city, or I don't understand. I've been led to believe that the state runs the programs she wants cut, not the city.
        • reply
          by Sue on May 5, 2011 at 11:47 PM in reply to B J
          You are correct BJ; Vicki apparently doesn't know much about government programs. Everything she mentioned has to do with state government not city government. Vicki, instead of questioning if Verg is a dumb man you should be asking if Snyder is.
    • reply
      by B J on May 5, 2011 at 06:36 PM in reply to ak
      I hear everyone saying to cut expenses but don't cut police or fire. Please be specific and explain how much will be saved by cutting mayor's office or city attorney office. Come up with the numbers instead of just saying cut. I don't live in Lansing so I don't have an interest in Lansing's budget but I get tired of hearing people say, cut the spending, I want to know you would cut and how much it will save.
  • by Josh Location: Jackson on May 4, 2011 at 06:01 PM
    I really think the people on capital hill should think about taking a pay cut or maybe lose a ade or two and do some actual work like the rest of us long before they cut things that people actually need. it's like they punish us for not going for another tax hike
  • by Anonymous on May 4, 2011 at 05:10 PM
    It is not just lansing.all over mich towns,cities,& villages are being cut by upper governments choices.Vote NO.Send back the messages.We are taxed to death while the rich have no worries & many tax cuts.We will still loose.Next yr we will get the same threat,do or loose.well have not we had enough.Have not the lower income ones paid enough by themselves.How about the rich start doing their share.
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