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Lansing city council approves budget with deep cuts in public safety

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council voted 5 to 3 last night to approve a city budget that deeply cuts police and fire in the capitol city.    Lansing, like many Michigan cities, is struggling with declining tax revenues and rising health care costs. 

Last night, the city council approved a budget that lays off more than a hundred city employees, including dozens of police officers and firefighters.  

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says the cuts in public safety are unavoidable. 

“Over half the budget is in police and fire. And yet, we have insulated police and fire up to this point…because the deficit was too large. But even now, we are doing everything we can to mitigate the effects on police and fire.”

Several city council members who voted against the budget express concern that the cuts in public safety are too deep.  Councilman Brian Jeffries voted against the budget.  He says the mayor tried to negotiate contract concessions three years ago to avoid layoffs.  

"Didn’t work then…I’m not very optimistic about it working now.”

Jeffries worries layoffs to police and fire will hurt Lansing’s quality of life. 

The mayor’s office is negotiating with Lansing’s city unions in hopes of winning 3 million dollars in contract concessions.   Bernero says that might be enough to reduce the number of layoffs by half.                      

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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