Lansing city council discussing utility fee to pay for fire hydrants and city streetlights

Apr 9, 2013

Lansing city leaders are weighing a couple of options that could increase the bills of city utility customers.

The mayor is proposing either a flat fee or a surcharge based on a customer’s water or electricity use to pay for Lansing’s fire hydrants and streetlights.  The money raised would help the city fill a projected $5 million hole in next year’s city budget.

In the past, the city paid the utility directly from its general fund for maintaining Lansing’s streetlights and fire hydrants.

J. Peter Lark is the general manager of the Lansing Board of Water and Light.  He briefed the city council last night on the costs of a flat or a 2.5 percent fee on customer bills.

Lark says it doesn’t matter to him which method city leaders choose.

“To be honest with you, I would probably prefer to do whatever works best for the city of Lansing," he said.

The added fees should cost residential customers about $46 a year. Large industrial customers would likely pay more than $10,000 annually.

Some city council members say they're concerned that an expensive fee might discourage business investment in the capitol city. 

The proposed utility fee has also drawn complaints from city residents who say it’s a tax hike. 

The proposed utility fee is part of the city budget plan that Lansing leaders must approve before the end of May.