By Katie Harrington
Old Town Times staff writer
Feelings about the property tax millage varied at the Lansing City Council meeting on Oct. 17. While council members supported the millage, citizens argued against it.
The millage, which consists of 1.5 mills for police funding, 1.5 mills for fire operations funding and one mill for other essential expenses such as repairing roads, is expected to raise $7.5 million in extra funding.
“We have one of two things that we can do when our budget revenues don’t match our budget expenses,” said City Council President A’Lynne Robinson. “We can make drastic reductions to our budget, which would include layoffs and cuts to services, or we can find ways to raise revenue. And this is one way to raise millions of dollars to which everyone across the city can contribute.”
The changes that may occur if the millage does not pass include police officer layoffs and fire station closings. The city has already closed two fire stations and more are currently in danger. Council members also said that police and fire response times will drastically increase if the millage is voted down.
“We would lose officers and expand the cover area,” Robinson said. “There is no doubt that the response times will increase.”
During the meeting, residents had a chance to voice their opinions in front of the council and their views varied.
Lansing resident Michael Williams is in favor of the millage. “I ask the voters, don’t ask what Lansing can do for you, ask what you can do for Lansing,” said Williams. “Paying taxes is what gets our roads fixed. It allows you to call the police and the fire department. People have to pay taxes.”
Charlene Decker, a Lansing resident, disagreed and is reluctant to vote for the millage because she feels that Lansing politicians are not always honest about the use of tax dollars. “We have to take care of our money, that’s the first thing,” said Decker. “We gotta let people understand that we don’t have that kind of money sitting around right now.”
Still, some believe that the council is not being honest about what the money will be used for.
Robinson said that to fix this problem, the language in the ballot has been changed since May. “The ballot actually says ‘dedicated’ to police, fire and roads,” Robinson said.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero asserted that there is nothing to be worried about.
“The guarantee is that the money will be spent exactly how it’s supposed to be spent,” said Bernero.