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Lansing city council approves fiscal year end deficit elimination plan

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last night,  a reluctant Lansing City Council approved a plan to eliminate a nearly two million dollar budget deficit.   Lansing's fiscal year concludes at the end of this week.

 City councilwoman Jody Washington described the deficit elimination plan as a ‘yard sale’. The package did include the sale of a city owned parking lot.   The rest of the money coming from the city’s reserve funds.

After the meeting, Washington lamented that the mayor’s office should have done a better job of anticipating the budget shortfall.

“We just need to learn to live within our means,” Washington said,  “And when we see we’re approaching hard times we need to make decisions then….not at the end of the year. Two million dollars to me….that’s a lot of money.”

A spokesman says the mayor did inform the city council in March that a budget gap was a possibility.

The Lansing city council also approved a new five year contract with the city’s utility.   The Lansing Board of Water and Light will pay the city roughly $17 million dollars over the next five years.  The 5% percent revenue payment is in lieu of the utility paying city taxes.

City Council President Brian Jeffries tried unsuccessfully to amend the deal in order to get BWL to pay a higher percentage of its revenues to the city.  But the mayor’s office objected, insisting trying to amend the deal now threatened the entire package.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.