Center City District bond and TIF update // Alice Dreger

There’s good financial news emerging on the Center City District project — the strict cost-control measures put in place by now-Mayor Ruth Beier and her colleagues on Council in 2017 turn out to be stricter than we had realized. In 2017, the TIF was effectively reduced by Council from a $56M cap to a $50M cap!

Combined with the new valuation method from tax assessor David Lee for big apartment buildings, this means that the Center City TIF will pay off years earlier than … Read more →

We Were Outgunned // Alice Dreger

What happened at the BRA yesterday?  ELi has my report up , but I would sum it up this way:

We were outgunned. And we were paying for the other side’s weapons.

What my reporting team saw yesterday is what we see at so many meetings. People representing our side – in this case, BRA members Jim Croom, Jeff Smith, and Aaron Stephens – ask really reasonable questions and express reasonable skepticism. 

But then, in the end, they vote “yes” without adequate protections for us. In the fog of … Read more →

Letter to the Brownfield Development Authority // Alice Dreger

I have steadily reported for East Lansing Info on the Center City District project from the day it was introduced, on many occasions with my colleague Chris Root. We have spent a lot of time using FOIA to document what has happened (and not happened) with regard to the public financing of this project.  Today I sent the attached letter (below) to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority about their meeting which happens tomorrow (Thursday, July 9) at noon. I share it with readers of Public Response … Read more →

East Lansing City Bond Attorney // Eliot Singer

I see  in ELi  that some members of Council are (finally) questioning the continued use of the bond attorney. I would add, they also need to get rid of Baird as the city’s bond agent.

Better yet, time to stop allowing DDA/BRA to issue bonds and to stop allowing the city to issue bonds unless approved by voters. Just a reminder, the DPW building was built without voter-approved bonds (with cost overrun) after voters were promised, in approving sale of the old building, there would be no … Read more →

What Counts as Outside “The Boundaries of Normal Messing-Up”? // Alice Dreger

Historic District - Sunset Ln - Copyright Raymond Holt

As  reported at ELi today , City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to finally end the excruciating process of considering changes to the Oakwood Historic District boundaries. 

As was expected when this process started in 2013, the DDA’s Evergreen Avenue properties were removed to allow for redevelopment in order to deal with the looming $5.4 million debt on them. I’m happy to say the boundary was moved only two properties farther north, leaving largely intact the district I bought into in 1998 with the purchase of our … Read more →

Selling and redeveloping city’s Evergreen properties is not financially necessary // Eliot Singer

Three of the EverGreen properties

With a new Council and an apparent willingness to look beyond the DDA for solutions to the Evergreen properties quagmire, I am going to revive my analysis from several years ago that it is not financially imperative to sell and redevelop the city’s Evergreen properties, which were originally bought with the intent of tearing them down and replacing with a massive parking garage.

Recall that the properties were bought 10 years ago for more than 3 times their assessed market value, at a time … Read more →

Fiscal Options for East Lansing // Ron Fisher

I have already commented about the East Lansing tax proposal arguing that the imposition of a City income tax or an increase in the property tax are inherently limited as a solution to the City’s fiscal issues. The main point is that the City is relatively small and surrounded by similar suburban communities with essentially equivalent access to major employers, making it relatively easy for individuals and businesses to select locations outside the City.

The point of this comment is the City has … Read more →

Service Solvency: An Analysis of Michigan Cities // Tali Faris-Hylen

Service Solvency: An Analysis of the Ability of Michigan Cities ....

I’ve read through this extensive piece put out by Robert Kleine, Interim Director and Mary Schulz, Associate Director Center for Local Government Finance and Policy Michigan State University Extension, and found it very informative given the financial situation East Lansing is in.

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/235/75790/GMI_062_Service_Solvency_Report-9-2017.pdf

It addresses why cities like EL, that seem like truly vibrant communities in every way, have revenues far behind other communities. It specifically states how cities with per capita taxable value below $20,000 will struggle financially (East Lansing is $19,461). … Read more →

Road Construction, City Income Tax Video, and Business Changes Around Town // Matt Kazmierski

Punk Taco coming to East Lansing

There are a couple of large road construction projects that start today – Monday, June 25 – in East Lansing. The first is a section of N. Hagadorn road, between Haslett and Lake Lansing roads. More details can be found at  http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/construction . The second (long-awaited) project is being done by MDOT on Saginaw Highway between Coolidge and Hagadorn roads. According to a City news release, “The project will include 2.18 miles of hot mix asphalt cold milling and resurfacing, joint repairs, ADA upgrades to … Read more →

Review of the Cost of Redevelopment Financial Missteps // Eliot Singer

City Hall, East Lansing

I have heard from a number of people asking me to review the history of the costly pursuit of redevelopment in East Lansing, in case anyone wishes to challenge the “not our fault” party line from city hall with regards to financial troubles. This is a summary, based on previous analysis.

1) Somewhat more than 20 years ago, Meadows, Singh, Jester, et al hired “Ted Almighty” Staton as city manager and gave him bonuses for bringing in development. Staton was an advocate of a … Read more →

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