While East Lansing may have limited options to increase property taxes, there is the option to raise more money via property taxes in the form of increased property values and reassessment at the time of sale. While there are the issues of potential bait and switch by developers, etc, there are also the issues that East Lansing seems to be afraid of student developments and increased urban density. Yes, previous eras of MSU students acted in ways that hurt the relationship between the City and the University population. However, at some point, East Lansing must embrace the fact that it is a Big Ten University town and student development downtown should be fostered.
With more people living downtown, comes more development that is not just aimed at students–take the new Target for example. If developers were not forced to build projects that the market cannot support (initially), then they would not need all of these tax breaks. This would then put more tax money back into the city coffers. Additionally, if East Lansing would develop into a more pedestrian friendly city that aims to encourage growth (including in building height) in the downtown core area, more people would want to live in or near the city center. With that “cool city” comes more value and more value leads to more tax revenue. The East Lansing restrictions on development, rentals, etc, has curtailed a lot of potential wealth for home owners.
Recently, I pulled the data from Zillow for each of the cities that are home to a Big Ten University. Notice the median home value and median listing price. They correlate to the popularity of the town, the options people have, and obviously the desire to live in the immediate area, press about great development, etc. East Lansing has ultimately failed to develop more value for homeowners, and more tax revenue for the city.
Perhaps it is time to re-think the way East Lansing does business. Rather than an income tax — be smart about development, encourage students to live downtown, and end tax cuts and brownfield projects.
|University||City||Zillow median home value||Median list price|
|University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||$364,100||$397,150|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||$348,900||$385,000|
|University of Maryland||College Park, MD||$316,500||$329,900|
|Penn State||State College, PA||$310,500|
|University of Minnesota||Minneapolis, MN||$259,200||$285,000|
|University of Wisconsin||Madison, WI||$249,200||$274,900|
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, NJ||$228,100||$215,000|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||$218,700||$274,900|
|Purdue University||West Lafayette, IN||$210,100||$244,500|
|Michigan State||East Lansing, MI||$185,200||$209,900|
|University of Nebraska–Lincoln||Lincoln, NE||$174,700||$239,000|
|Indiana University||Bloomington, IN||$173,500||$259,900|
|Ohio State University||Columbus, OH||$145,100||$173,500|
A former resident who would like to move back to East Lansing.