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Lansing's mayor wants city utility customers to help close the city's projected budget deficit

Lansing’s mayor is proposing its municipal utility customers pay more to balance the city’s budget next year.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero outlined his budget plan to the city council last night.   Bernero says the city’s budget problems are not quite as serious as expected.    The mayor says better than expected property tax collections and lower than expected city employee health care costs had cut the project budget deficit in half.

Still, Bernero says the city needs to close about a five million dollar budget gap.

So he's asking for new fees for street lights and fire hydrants as part of his $112 million budget proposal.

“This is exactly the same amount I proposed six years ago for the 2007-2008 fiscal year. We are operating with the same amount of money that we did back then….yet our costs have increased every year since then,”  Bernero told the city council. 

But the mayor’s plan to charge city utility customers $46 extra a year may face some opposition.

City council president Carol Wood says she would rather boost the payment the Board of Water and Light is required to make to the city in lieu of taxes.

“If I had my druthers, I would rather that ….the Board of Water and Light pay another half a percent..... and that would take care of the five million [dollars]”.

Wood says the utility could do that without raising fees on customers.

Lansing city leaders have until May 20th to agree on a budget plan for fiscal year 2014.

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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