Who wants $3 million back? Grand Ledge Public Schools taxpayers to benefit from bond refinancing

By Madison Morse
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

After paying for a School Building and Sites bond issue since it was approved in 2007, the taxpayers of Grand Ledge Public Schools are soon getting a bit of a refund. Superintendent of Grand Ledge Public Schools Brian Metcalf announced in a press release that taxpayers will see a savings of approximately $3 million over the next 20 years. The money stems from the refinancing the 2007 bond passed for school improvements and will bring a 12 percent savings on interest rates. “The benefit of refunding or refinancing the bond is that after 10 years we have the opportunity to go back and see where interest rates are. Can we finance any better interest rate that we can save our taxpayers a whole lot of money?” said Metcalf.

DeWitt District Library, after years of financial troubles, now on a stable path of continued improvement

By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Reporter

DEWITT — Keeping the DeWitt District Library afloat has long been a topic of debate for the DeWitt Charter Board of Trustees, the DeWitt District Library Board, and several more township boards involved. For far too long, many argued, the library was forced to run on an insufficient allotment of 0.5 mill. The township’s shrinking budget further aggravated this problem; because of increased cuts in funding by the state, DeWitt Township had little to work with as it was. A proposed millage increase in this situation, along with a proposal for a new library building large enough to sufficiently serve the needs of its community, would likely prove challenging to gain public support for. This was indeed the case.

2016 Clinton County budget spends more on public safety and recreation, less on administration and economic development

By Liam Tiernan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

Clinton County’s 2016 administrative budget contains reductions to administrative service expenditures and community & economic development, as well as increases in funding to recreation and public safety. Public safety expenditures are gaining $200,000 more funding than they did in 2014, increasing to $7,354,104 from $7,154,290. Recreation funding was increased to $165,368 from $149,939 in 2014. Clinton County Clerk’s office administrator Jenny Schmidt explains, “The increases to recreation funding are intended to help towns that thrive on out-of-town visitors such as St. Johns continue to do so.

State, federal and local taxpayers help chip in for CATA services

By Chris Hung
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

The Meridian Township Treasurer’s Office spends just about 6 percent of money received from taxpayers on the Capital Area Transportation Authority. In comparison, about 4 percent is spent on their police force. “Voters [in Meridian Township] have approved the tax support for public transit,” said Julie Brixie, who is a member of the CATA board of directors and the township’s treasurer. “CATA receives subsidies from both the state and federal government as well.”

While taxpayers in Meridian Township are also paying for CATA’s bills, a large sum of the funding is actually paid for by the state and federal government in the form of subsidies, explained Brixie. More revenue comes from the state government, accounting for approximately a quarter of CATA’s revenues in 2015.

Large commercial areas in Lansing Township contrast with residential areas

By Grant Essenmacher
Lansing Township News Staff Reporter

With just under five square miles of land, Lansing Township has only 8,126 residents according to the 2010 U.S Census. The residential areas of the township have become obsolete and big business chains have moved in. The contrast between large commercial shopping areas and the smaller, less developed residential areas of Lansing Township is stark. Many chain businesses have relocated to the township, while apartment complexes and smaller neighborhoods have become more popular. Jason Mullen, a Lansing Township resident and frequent shopper at Eastwood Towne Center, has noticed the difference between the two.

Eastwood Downtown Development Authority bond payments add up

By Rachel Beard
Lansing Township News Staff Reporter

In order to develop commercial areas to their fullest potential, it is common for governments to rely on bonds to pay for these developments. Lansing Township is no exception. But at the end of the day – or fiscal year – who is responsible for paying off these bonds? “The DDA (Downtown Development Authority) pays all of the bond payments,” Lansing Township Treasurer Leo Rodgers said. “No bond payments are made from Lansing Township’s operating budget.”

What exactly does this mean?

Clinton County government’s approach to dollars is making sense

By Nathaniel Bott
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

Since the last audited year in 2014, Clinton County government has been seeing its highest increase in financial performance trends since 2010. Categories such as cost per resident, net debt per capita, and pensions/retiree health funded in Clinton County are all at their peak standing. One major factor for freeing up a county’s budget is paying off debt, something that county Deputy Administrator Craig Longnecker and Clinton County have been serious about. “Net debt per capita, that’s a declining trend, and it will go to zero at the end of this year,” Longnecker said. “We (Clinton County) will have paid off all our primary government debt.

Proposal 1 looks to fix roads by raising taxes

By Ray Wilbur
Listen Up, Lansing

Today, voters across the state will be asked to increase the sales tax that customers pay at the register, this time as a part of funding package for maintenance of the state’s roads known as Proposal 1. Voters in Michigan passed a similar ballot question over 15 years ago, in 1994, in order to pay for a school-funding reform package. The two ballot proposals differ greatly though, because of another contrasting detail, aside from what the money was being used for. In 1994, the ballot didn’t really raise taxes, according to Lansing public relations executive John Truscott. Truscott said the 1994 proposal, known as Proposal A, came after lawmakers reduced property taxes and voted to replace the lost revenue with an income tax increase.

Dems propose tax breaks for mid-, low-income families

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan is still catching up after the Great Recession crashed the economy — and for most residents, the 2011 rewrite of the state tax code made things worse, Democratic legislators say. Lawmakers recently took aim at tax changes approved by Gov. Rick Snyder that they said shifted the burden from businesses to individuals and harmed mid and low-wage workers. “Most families in our state continue to struggle economically, and the income and equality and disparity between the wealthy and everyone else continues to get ever bigger,” Democratic House Leader Tim Greimel of Oakland County said. “A big part of that is related to the massive tax shift that Republicans in state government orchestrated in 2011.”

Under the 2011 rewrite, multiple tax benefits for middle class and low-income residents were cut or reduced, including significant reductions to a tax credit that helps low-wage workers and their families. A $600 per child tax credit for families was also cut, and a new tax on pensions was added.

Lansing Infrastructure: Can Proposal 1 Save It?

By Emma-Jean Bedford
and Ian Wendrow 
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING-The question on everyone’s mind lately has been: “What’s happening with these roads?” But it’s not just roads that are troublesome. Lansing has recently been dealing with issues related to low residential population, a distinct lack of diverse businesses, and overall deteriorating infrastructure. An effort to address infrastructure funding is currently on the upcoming May 5 ballot, titled Proposal 1. Proposal 1 is a ballot initiative meant to raise funds, mostly for new road work, through changes in taxes. If passed, the House Fiscal Agency, a non-partisan agency within the House of Representatives that analyzes the financial effects of Michigan legislation, estimates that the tax increase would raise about $2.1 billion this fiscal year; of which $1.23 billion would go towards roads, $463.1 million to the state’s general fund, $292.4 million to schools and $89.9 million to local governments.