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Another Developer with Persistent History of Tax Delinquencies Is Seeking a Major East Lansing Project // Eliot Singer

At the top of the list of reforms to make public-private development credible is preventing anyone with a history of fraud, tax delinquencies, mortgage defaults and foreclosures, etc. from receiving tax incentives or otherwise engaging in partnerships or dealings with government. This not only limits moral risk—remember East Lansing has done brownfield projects with developers who have committed fraud and had terrible tax payment records, a major reason for the city’s reputation for corruption and cronyism—business people with these factors in their profile are … Read more →

Meadows “just as surprised as everyone” // Eliot Singer

Mayor Mark Meadows wrote on July 24, “I was just as surprised as everyone to see that the developer was advertising the Grand River property as ‘student housing.’ The Grand River housing was approved as market rate housing and was to be advertised as available to anyone.”

https://eastlansinginfo.org/content/downtown-businesses-panicking-over-construction-related-downturn

Another wonderful example of an excuse-making professional politician having to choose between admitting he was in the know from the beginning or coming across as a moron.

Ruth Beier knew, she just doesn’t seem to … Read more →

Income Tax Proposal and Election Results // Matt Kazmierski

The City of East Lansing’s income tax proposal on yesterday’s ballot passed with around 58% of voters voting “yes” (some other sources say as high as 61%). East Lansing Info was on top of the outcome late last night . ELi also has a short survey asking voters to explain their vote of “yes” or “no” on the income tax proposal.

Other general results include:

– A passing of the Ingham County ballot proposal for a new jail millage

– Gretchen Whitmer winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor of Michigan

– Bill … Read more →

Please Vote Today // Matt Kazmierski

This is a friendly reminder to be a responsible citizen, and vote in today’s primary election. In addition to the races, there are a couple of important ballot proposals for those in the East Lansing area.

Here are some helpful resources to prepare you for voting:

https://www.vote411.org/ – A very helpful voter guide, with information on candidates, ballot proposals, and polling place locations. Just enter your address in the left side bar, and go from there.

https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/ – Preview your ballot on the State … 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 →

Influence peddling and tax vote // Eliot Singer

Even after years of investigative reporting on East Lansing, I am amused by the report in ELi about big contributors to the yes campaign with reasons to influence city hall, including what is now hotter than development tax giveaways, peddling dope. (I’ve favored legalization since my hippie days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t big players trying to get in to a profitable industry by greasing the skids. )

Normally business interests don’t like taxes, witness Chamber sayin no, but this is the only influence peddling game … Read more →

Consumption taxes vs Income taxes… // Dave Finet

I’d like to thank Mr Wolf for reinforcing my point with his informative email.  The difference between consumption taxes (as most of the taxes he mentioned ARE consumption taxes) and income taxes is EXACTLY the reason that some STATES don’t even collect income tax!

http://www.howmoneywalks.com/consumption-tax-vs-income-tax-why-more-states-are-opting-to-collect-consumption-taxes-only/

Consumption taxes are more progressive than income taxes and (in the East Lansing situation) don’t punish “non-residents” for East Lansing’s financial mismanagement and force them to pay for anyone else’s “quality of life”.

So, yes, compare all you’d like… but … Read more →

Smart Development, Cool City, No Income Tax // Matt Mitroka

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 … 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 →

Helpful Election Information // Alice Dreger

East Lansing Info (ELi) provides nonprofit, nonpartisan news and information for East Lansing. A major part of that service is providing information and investigative reporting about elections for voters in East Lansing.

Jessy Gregg and I have produced a comprehensive nonpartisan voter guide on the income tax proposal, with substantial help from Chris Root. You can read that here:
https://eastlansinginfo.org/content/elis-voter-guide-income-tax

Additionally, Chris Root has provided an in-depth look at the Ingham County jail and justice millage, published here:
https://eastlansinginfo.org/content/august-ballot-has-another-proposal-ingham-county-voters-new-jail

Karessa Wheeler … Read more →

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