The Lansing City Council voted 6-1 to put a 4 mills property tax hike on the May ballot. The measure would raise the city an estimated $8.5 million to close what is already a more than $15 million deficit.
That was the first hurdle and now it faces another... approval from the public. It's a public that wasn't kind to a proposed property tax hike monday night.
"It will not be used for the intent that we're voting for," said Darnell Oldham Sr.
"How dare you come back to us with some foolishness like this," said John Pollard. "Be prepared for Plan B when we take this down."
The issue became much more pressing following Governor Snyder's budget announcement last week. If the governor's revenue sharing cuts go through, the city's deficit would grow by another 4 to 5 million dollars.
"Roughly we would be dealing with a $20 million hole in a 100 million dollar budget," said Dunbar. "It's a lot to cut when you don't have much fat left."
Council member Brian Jeffries was the lone opposition vote. He presented a more modest property tax increase a year ago but was shot down.
At the end of the day when we do our budget we have to look at what is the level of service we want to provide to our constituents versus what can they afford to pay," said Jeffries. "I think at this point putting this proposal forward isn't timely."
If the measure fails in May, the city would have to go to a 'Plan B' to close the deficit.
"When you cost out 20 million dollars and you average a city worker with their health care, salary and fringe, you're looking at about 285 positions that we'd have to cut," said Dunbar. "Plan B's not going to be pretty."
According to Lansing's city clerk, the ballot will cost $50,000 - $60,000.