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Lansing's proposed city utility fee may cost some more than others

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A plan to close Lansing’s projected five million dollar budget deficit next year may cost some city residents and businesses more than others.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero wants the city utility to charge its customers a fee to pay for city streetlights and fire hydrants.   

Right now, Lansing city government pays for the streetlights and fire hydrants out of the city’s general fund. 

Lansing’s mayor wants the city’s utility to charge its customers a fee to pay for the streetlights and fire hydrants to help balance the capitol city’s budget.

The mayor said the fee would be about 46 dollars a year.   But last night, the city council was told the fee could be much more for some individuals and businesses.  

“It’s going to be based on usage,” says Brian Jeffries, a Lansing city councilman, “It’s not just a flat fee that’s going to be assessed on every resident equally or every business equally.”

Jeffries worries a high fee could hurt larger Board of Water & Light customers, including the city government.

A spokesman for the mayor says they haven’t estimated how much the fee will cost the city itself.

Some city residents complain the utility fee is just another tax.

Lansing’s leaders will have to agree on a budget plan before the end of May.

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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