Do You Care About East Lansing?

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Proposals For Budget Reductions // Kriss Ostrom and Daphne O’Regan

The budget cuts mentioned in City documents rely excessively on cuts to public safety and merely tinker around the edges of other city services and staff reductions at City Hall. Kriss Ostrom and I propose the following cuts to the East Lansing budget. We have both been East Lansing residents for more than thirty years. Daphne served on the East Lansing School Board and on the School Board Finance Committee during several years of intense budget cutting. Kriss was the Head of Circulation in the MSU Libraries for more than thirty years and accomplished many staff and program reductions while maintaining … Read more →

Financial Crisis and Meadows Still in Denial // Eliot Singer

I hate to talk about this now, given the immediate flood crisis. I hope most of you are managing. This flood is worse than anything in my 35 years in residence in Lansing/East Lansing, and our backed-up sewer problems were not flood related. I feel compelled to say something after reading the latest on financial crisis in Eli. Avondale Square is not the worst by any means. The building of the new DPW building without a debt millage last time Meadows was mayor is costing about $600,000 per year for 25 years, ultimately mostly from general fund money, though hidden … Read more →

re: More Tax Comparisons // Phill Bellfy

In response to Eliot Singer’s most recent post –a small group of activists looked into creating “Spartan City” out of the shallow hull of the city that would formerly be known as East Lansing.  It could be done, but there is one rather large complicating factor: Abbot Road forms the dividing line between two underlying Townships (Lansing Twp. to the west, and Meridian to the east). So, in order to create “Spartan City,” the voters both east and west of Abbot would have to separately vote to separate from “East Lansing” and join their respective Townships.  Then voters in the … Read more →

More Tax Comparisons // Eliot Singer

I am very curious about why certain non-city taxes are so much higher in EL/Ingham County than in TC/Traverse Bay/Grand Traverse. I have analyzed why EL city taxes are so high—the disproportionate cost of policing a college town with much smaller tax base than Ann Arbor, with collateral effect on legacy costs, which are mostly for public safety, and the huge amount of money squandered on building public works, without seeking voter approved debt millages, and pursuing public-private development with snake oil finance. ISD costs might be something to look at through state funding, at least something local legislators might … Read more →

TC v EL Taxes // Eliot Singer

Having recently received my Traverse City 2018 assessment, with 2.1% inflation increase, I have been trying to more fully understand my tax millages in comparison with what I was used to in East Lansing. Both communities have significant aging infrastructure problems. As far as I can tell, public safety and public services in TC are as good or better than in EL. Bottom line is TC local taxes (defined as for a brownfield plan, including ISD but not school district) comes to about 27.8 mils as opposed to about 47.1 mils for EL. (I have excluded voter-approved debt. EL debt … Read more →

re: City Attorney Ad Naseum // Phil Bellfy

Eliot Singer is right on about the need to get rid of the private-practice lawfirm posing as East Lansing City Attorneys.  Long-time readers of PR may remember the numerous posts that called them out on just about everything, ranging from “assigning” the City’s right of Eminent Domain to “third parties” so these private parties could avoid paying their taxes, to the latest “splattering the blood of a women on the floor of a bar is really nothing more than ‘littering’ in East Lansing” BS from the “city attorney.” Those that want to read more of that older stuff can click … Read more →

City Attorney Ad Naseum // Eliot Singer

ELi has another story about the city trying to keep secret information surrounding what us old-timers call retaining-wall-gate. http://eastlansinginfo.org/content/following-fraud-suit-city-admits-fault-has-not-released-public-documents The city spent a significant amount of HUD Community Development Block Grant money to fix the retaining wall of the city attorney’s firm’s building. There were people yelling and screaming about it at the time, so pretending they didn’t know is absurd. Secrecy over this or over the hundreds of thousands of dollars in Lotto 1 fees to pay the developer’s lawyer and the city’s bond attorney, among other excessive costs, shows a city government that has failed to learn lessons … Read more →

Public Purpose Must Be Commensurate with Cost // Eliot Singer

I am trying to push state legislators on development authority reforms, using East Lansing as the poster-child for how to do public-private development wrong. One of the key reforms needs to be requiring all brownfield projects or DDA expenditures provide a detailed breakdown, including financials, of what the public purposes are in relation to tax diversion and other costs, and also requiring a strong procedure for objective assessment. Currently, all government has to do is wave a magic wand and say, there’s a public purpose, without explaining what it is, let alone why it is worth the money. Public purpose, … Read more →

DRW Illegal Trade Case Still Undecided // Eliot Singer

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-21/for-legendary-chicago-trader-slow-justice-in-manipulation-case I hadn’t check for many months, but someone asked me a few days ago, so I finally got around to it. DRW is tied to Core Campus/Convexity. After City Center II/Park District and the brownfield project with the developer with a felony fraud conviction, East Lansing government and MEDC needed an absolute no crooks and deadbeats for tax incentives rule to restore even a modicum of credibility and ethical standards. They didn’t. DRW should have been excluded from tax incentives for the project that fell apart with the $10 million MBT credit fiasco (complete with the usual, don’t worry, … Read more →

Secret Fees for Lotto 1 Bond Are Outrageous // Eliot Singer

When the $25,265,000 for the Lotto 1 bond was announced, with only $24,389,518 going to pay for the $33,000 per space parking structure and other infrastructure, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Typically, the city pays the bond broker 1%, and this is to do the paperwork/bookkeeping and to sell the bonds on the open market. In this case, it was a private placement deal, so the origination (broker) fee should have been less, since there was no need to sell on the open market. Now we know why the difference was so high. Not only was there a … Read more →

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