By Ashley Weigel
Lansing Star Staff Writer
LANSING- At a recent city council meeting, Mayor Virg Bernero proposed that the city’s streetlights and fire hydrants should be paid for by the residents of Lansing. On average, residents could pay an extra $46 per year.
Bernero proposed the budget for fiscal year 2014 on March 25. While it isn’t final, it outlines what he intends to change for the next year’s budget. One of the major changes Bernero suggested was changing how the streetlights and fire hydrants are paid for. Instead of the money coming from the city’s funds, customers of the Lansing Board of Water and Light will have an extra cost onto their bill to pay for them.
Some of the residents at the city council meeting did not approve of this change.
“There was an old saying…will the last person to leave please turn off the lights,” said Claude Beavers, a Lansing resident. “Well if we continue with this idea of fire hydrants and street lights being paid by the residents, I wonder, will there be any residents left to turn out the lights?”
Lansing resident Darnell Oldham Sr. shared Beaver’s view.
“I’m real concerned about this $46 for the fire hydrant[s] and lights. I think this needs to be revisited,” said Oldham.
Lansing is not the only city in the state that has to come up with new ways to balance the budget.
“Since 1998 Michigan communities have lost over 4.3 billion in state revenue sharing forcing communities to cut positions, such as in police and fire, and reduce office hours to serve the public while still trying to maintain a level of service their residents expect, such as road repair, public safety, snow removal, etc.,” said Nikki Brown, the legislative associate, state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. “They are forced to do more with less and find innovative ways to balance their budgets.”
This change to the budget won’t be the same across the board. The average homeowner should amount to about $46 per year, which would work out to be less than $1 per week, Bernero said.
None of this is final, however. The final budget will be worked on by the city council and is due on May 20.