By Kate Mudgett
Lansing Star staff writer
With a general fund deficit estimated to be at least $15 million, Lansing may face a vote on a property tax increase to help foot the bill.
At the Feb. 14 meeting, City Council Vice President Kathie Dunbar presented her proposal of a property tax increase. The proposal suggests levying a property tax increase of 4 mills for 5 years. This would mean an initial gain of $8.5 million in 2012, which would be used to fund police, fire and road services.
After Monday’s council meeting, five out of eight council members declared their support for the tax increase to be considered by Lansing voters in May.
“It certainly gives us the opportunity to poll our residents, our neighbors, our friends and family and ask for their direction and guidance during a very tough decision-making process,” said Council President A’Lynne Robinson.
The other three council members declined to go on record about their opinion of the proposal. However, Councilman Eric Hewitt did express his concerns about how the property tax increase would affect Lansing residents.
“I don’t want to see the taxpayers taking on a burden that is going to put them in danger of possibly losing their houses,” said Hewitt. “We already have a big enough problem in our economy now with foreclosures. I hate to see us exacerbate the problem.”
Mayor Virg Bernero has supported of bringing a tax increase question to the voters; a change from his previous stance on tax increases. Bernero says that due to the size of the deficit and the cuts that deficit would mean he has to become open to the idea of a tax increase.
Residents who spoke at the meeting were critical of the plan and opposed putting the strain on the residents.
The council will vote on whether to put the tax increase on the May ballot at tonight’s council meeting. The council meets Mondays at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers on the tenth floor of Lansing City Hall.