|City Council Hosting Community Engagement MeetingsIn the face of ongoing, significant financial challenges, East Lansing City Council will be hosting community engagement meetings to gather public input on the City of East Lansing’s budget priorities this January.
The meetings, facilitated by Public Sector Consultants, will take place on the following dates at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road:
§ Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 6-8 p.m. in the Executive Conference Room
§ Thursday, Jan. 18 from 7-9 p.m. in the Banquet Hall
These meetings will provide East Lansing residents with an opportunity to share their input as we look to prioritize City services with a goal of financial sustainability, said East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows. We as a Council will be continuing to look at a number of options to address the City’s financial challenges and we would like to hear from the community on what type of City government they want in the future. We invite all residents to join us for these important conversations about the future of our community.
Community members do not need to attend both meetings, as they will follow the same format, and the same information will be shared. Two meetings are being held on different dates to accommodate community members’ schedules.
The City of East Lansing has, and continues to face, significant financial challenges as a result of decreased revenue sharing from the state over the past 16 years, tight state restrictions on the ability of local governments to raise new revenue, the ongoing impact of the drop in property values as a result of the recession and Proposal A/Headlee limits, low taxable value per capita, legacy costs (which have increased due to the recession and below-average market returns; the City’s pension obligations were 80% funded in 2003 and they are 53% funded today) and the ongoing need to renew aging infrastructure. It’s important to note that the City has had no growth in revenue in a decade. The percent change from 2006 to 2017 is -1.4 percent.
Steps taken to address the City’s financial challenges over the years include decreasing the overall size of government (130+ positions have been eliminated since 2007), restructuring pension and retirement benefits for employees, consolidating and restructuring City departments, creating a Healthcare Task Force to keep rising healthcare costs at a minimum, adding 2 mills to the East Lansing Public Library operating budget, sharing services with neighboring municipalities and making other strategic cost-cutting decisions across all City departments.
Despite these steps, the City’s challenges have persisted and Council will be looking at a range of options moving forward. These options could include a reduction in services, the addition of new revenue or a combination of both.
2. Neighborhood Snow Shoveling Help
Are you someone who, from frailty or age, is unable to clear your sidewalks of snow and other winter ‘gifts’, but can’t afford to hire others to do so? Or do you have a neighbor or friend in this situation? If so, the Bailey Community Association has a program to coordinate those who need help with volunteers who can help them. MSU students, together with other neighborhood residents, have volunteered to help with this effort. Of course, we do hope neighbors will continue to look out for each other, and help those in need as they have done in the past. If you’re over 55, and need snow-removal help, please call the Prime Time Seniors Program at 517-337-1113. Prime Time maintains a listing of pre-screened snow-removal contractors, but if those services aren’t within your means, Prime Time will refer you to the BCA’s volunteer program. If you live in the Bailey neighborhood and would like to volunteer to help shovel sidewalks, please contact Nancy Cuddeback at 517-214-1598. Homeowners receiving help should plan to provide a shovel and salt to the volunteers – and cookies (or other tasty “shoveling fuel”) would be nice, too! Our goal is to help homeowners meet the need to keep their sidewalks clear, and, together, make wintertime walking in Bailey do-able and safer for all