brian jeffries

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council may soon face a critical test to see if it might be able to override the mayor’s plans for how to spend property tax money earmarked for public safety.

The Lansing city council is expected to vote in two weeks on the city’s budget for next year. But one major point of contention between the council and mayor Virg Bernero remains.

Voters last year approved a special public safety property tax. The mayor wants to spend part of the revenue next year on hiring back more than a half dozen laid off police officers and renovate a city owned building for police operations.

But Council President Brian Jeffries and other council members would rather all the money be spent on hiring laid off police officers. But in the end, he says it’s a question of numbers.

"It takes five votes to amend the budget on the floor," says Jeffries, "and once its passed it takes six votes to override a veto."

Jeffries says he hasn’t polled his fellow council members on how they will vote on the mayor’s public safety budget.

The council has until the middle of this month to act on the mayor’s budget plan.

Lansing’s mayor says a combination of employee furlough days and union concessions are necessary to shrink a $4.7 million budget gap next year. He laid out his budget plan to the city council last night.

Mayor Virg Bernero blames rising health insurance costs and declining property tax revenues for the budget gap.

“We need to make some serious decisions," says Brian Jeffries,  the president of the Lansing City Council,  "(The decisions are) going to be painful.   Both in terms of the number of employees…as well as loss of services…and what does that actually means for the city.”

The Lansing city council has until mid-May to come up with any changes to the mayor’s spending plan.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It took a marathon session Monday night, but the Lansing city council finally has a new council president.   

The eight-member council is evenly divided into two factions. But after four hours of  closed door talks, Councilman Brian Jeffries emerged as the next Lansing city council president. Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar agreed to drop her bid for the president's gavel, after receiving assurances that she will have support for council president next year.

After the council voted to confirm him as president, Jeffries admitted the process did take a toll.

“Tonight was something we had to work through. I think we did….we got to a place where everyone felt comfortable…and I think we can go from there," said Jeffries.  

Jeffries admits work on the city budget may test the Lansing city council’s strained relations. Lansing may face a $12 to 15 million budget deficit next year.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A sharp division among Lansing city council members kept the council from taking its first required step this year during a meeting today.   The division threatens to keep the capital city’s governing body from functioning.

The Lansing city council is so divded it can’t even agree on who should chair its’ meetings.   The council talked for nearly 90 minutes, mainly in sometimes animated one on one discussions, and still deadlocked 4 to 4 over who should be the council president. 

The sharp divide has defined the Lansing city council for years.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

For a second time this year, Lansing voters will be asked to decide if they want to increase their property taxes. There are fears of deep cuts in police and fire protection if the millage is rejected again. 

 In May, Lansing voters rejected a millage increase. After that, the city laid off 47 police officers and firefighters to close a multi-million dollar budget gap. 

Now the city’s finance director is predicting another $12 to $15 million gap next year.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council voted 5 to 3 last night to approve a city budget that deeply cuts police and fire in the capitol city.    Lansing, like many Michigan cities, is struggling with declining tax revenues and rising health care costs. 

Last night, the city council approved a budget that lays off more than a hundred city employees, including dozens of police officers and firefighters.  

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says the cuts in public safety are unavoidable.