East Lansing voters rejected an income tax designed to address the city’s $190 million budget shortfall, 2,658-2,200. The proposal would have imposed a 1 percent income tax on city residents and a .5 percent tax on non-residents. An accompanying proposal to cut property taxes was favored 2,946-1,814, but was conditional on the income tax being approved, and so will not take effect.With all 17 precincts in, Michigan State student Aaron Stephens unseated City Councilmember Susan Woods in a three-for-two race. The top vote-getter was Ruth Beier with 3,522. Stephens had 3,031 and Woods had 2,695, according to figures from the Ingham County Clerk’s Office. Stephens said that while he is not the youngest candidate ever to run for the council he thought he could become the youngest to win.
City officials have said that without the income tax they will have to look at higher property taxes and cuts in city services. During the run-up to the election, Michigan State had offered to pay the city as much as $20 million to take the income tax proposal off the ballot.
Much of the city’s debt is due to pension and retiree health-care liabilities. Its short-term needs are much lower, but seem likely to require quick action by the city.