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Jackson laying off city employees to close budget gap created by court ruling

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Jackson city employees are getting layoff notices this morning.

The layoffs come as city leaders come to grips with a court ruling striking down Jackson’s storm water fee.

This month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Jackson’s storm water fee was an illegal tax.   The city has decided not to appeal the ruling.

Since 2011, the city collected more than two million dollars from the fee to pay for street cleaning and leaf pick up.     But without the storm water fee revenues, Mayor Martin Griffin says the city will have to cancel those city services and lay off the city employees who performed them.

“These were the things the citizens of Jackson have told us they wanted.   But unfortunately, people who were not even residents and the county sued us over this,” says Griffin.

The city was sued by Jackson County and the owner of a local coffee shop.    Both had refused to pay the storm water fee.    As part of its ruling, the appeals court decided the city of Jackson did not have to repay city residents and businesses that paid the tax.

The cuts announced last night may save the city of Jackson about a million dollars.  But Griffin says more spending cuts may be needed.

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.