lansing city council

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council last night approved an ordinance that will require home and business owners to shovel snow from sidewalks faster. 

The capitol city’s old ordinance, which involved mailing citations to property owners, sometimes took so long the snow would melt before the property owner received the notice.    

The new ordinance speeds up the process to 48 hours. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says one death last year can be blamed on city residents not shoveling their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

“Life and limb is what’s at stake," says Bernero. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An eyesore in downtown Lansing may finally have a brighter future.

A prominent Lansing developer is offering $1 million for the Oliver Towers. The former apartment building has sat largely vacant for more than a decade. It’s located on prime real estate in the heart of downtown Lansing, a block from the state Capitol building.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today announced a prominent Lansing developer, George F. Eyde Family LLC, has agreed to buy the building.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

For the first time in a decade, Lansing leaders will be working this year on a city budget without having to consider millions of dollars in cuts.

Declining tax revenues have forced Lansing city government to shrink during the past decade.

The capitol city has eliminated about a third of its city workforce.

But on Thursday, Mayor Virg Bernero announced that next year’s city budget is projected to be balanced.

A’Lynne Boles is the city council president.   Boles is not sure what it will be like working on a budget without the need for deep spending cuts.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council picked a new president last night.

It’s a routine bit of government business that in recent years has been anything but routine.

Sharp divisions between the supporters and opponents of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have made the selection of a council president quite contentious during the past few years. Two years ago, the council needed a dozen votes to select a president. Last year, the selection process was rife with angry accusations.

But last night, A’Lynne Boles was elected president with little drama.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says he hopes Tuesday’s election results will put an end to “sniping” in city politics.

Bernero easily won his third term as the capitol city’s mayor.  His slate of city council candidates also won. 

Bernero says the results show voters want to end the gridlock on the Lansing city council.

“This is realignment.  This is the voters saying to the council ‘Get with the program’.”]

Bernero believes it’s his ‘program’ the voters want.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council Monday night will spend some time trying to prioritize how the city should spend its money.

The city council is required to deliver its budget priorities for the year ahead to the mayor’s office by October First.

Carol Wood is the Lansing city council president.

She says the mayor’s office is supposed to incorporate the council’s priorities as it begins the process of drafting the next fiscal year’s budget.

Wood says the council is looking at a wide variety of ideas. 

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Detroit bankruptcy is topic of national conversation

Snyder, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appeared on Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to talk about filing bankruptcy for Detroit. Snyder said he will push to protect the retired city workers whose pensions are on the table. He said the bankruptcy filing included protections for retirees and urged them to remain calm. Orr said on "Fox News Sunday" that there are going to have to be "concessions." Bing on ABC's "This Week" said now that bankruptcy has been filed, leaders have to take a step back before making a decision on a federal bailout.

Flint school district faces more budget cuts

The Flint School Board will take up a Deficit Elimination Plan tomorrow night. The district is wrestling with a nearly 16 million dollar deficit. The Flint school district has made deep budget cuts but more cuts are likely if the district follows the plan to eliminate its deficit by June 2016. The Flint School Board has until July 31st to send its deficit elimination plan to the state.  

Lansing may end its relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lansing city council will be meeting tonight to discuss its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally. Members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s two decade sister cities relationship with the city.

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The city of Lansing may end its sister-city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Russian city recently passed an anti-homosexual ordinance and arrested people during a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rally.

Jody Washington is a Lansing City Council member. She says Michigan’s capital city shouldn’t have any kind of friendly agreement with a city that violates human rights.

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Governor urging legislature to expand Medicaid

“Governor Rick Snyder is urging the Legislature to act on expanding Medicaid before the end of June and the beginning of the summer recess. The governor says the Medicaid expansion is a cost-saver for taxpayers, businesses, and hospitals because it would reduce expensive emergency visits by uninsured patients. Some Republicans are calling for time limits and benefit caps before they’ll consider the expansion. The governor says he’d like to wrap up the expansion in time to start enrolling new Medicaid patients in January,” Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports.

Terri Land expected to announce candidacy for Senator Carl Levin's seat

“Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is expected to announce today whether she intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Carl Levin. So far Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township is the only person who's announced his candidacy; Terri Land would be the first Republican candidate to formally step into the race. Land easily won two statewide elections serving as secretary of state from 2003 to 2011; before that she served as Kent County clerk,” Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports.

Lansing city council will respond to mayor's vetoes

The Lansing city council is expected to try to override the mayor’s budget vetoes tonight, but the council does not appear to have enough votes to do it. Six of the council's eight members would need to vote to override the vetoes, but as Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports, “that appears unlikely.”  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today vetoed all the changes the city council made to his budget plan for next year.

The city council passed a budget on Monday that axed many of the mayor’s spending priorities in order to avoid new streetlight and fire hydrant fees.  The fees would have added up to about 46 dollars a year for the average Lansing Board of Water and Light residential customer. 

Money for road repairs, economic development, city IT services and personnel hiring were among the line items the city council axed from the budget. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has a long list of items he plans to veto in the budget passed by the city council last night.   

The Lansing city council struggled for three hours trying to agree on amendments to the proposed city budget for next year.  

The numbers got so confused, the council took a forty minute break to give the city’s finance director time to figure out if the budget was still balanced, as it’s legally required to be.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the meeting was extremely disorganized.

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Legislation in Michigan House could cap FOIA fees

There is new legislation up for initial hearing this week in Lansing. It is a response to local governments and state agencies charging hefty fees for people to see government records.

"One of the bills would limit most charges for requests filed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act to no more than 10 cents a page. Another would create a Michigan Open Government Commission to hear challenges to government denials of information requests," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Lansing City Council vs. Mayor Virg Bernero

The Lansing city council will vote tonight on a budget for next year. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "the vote will likely put the council at odds with Mayor Virg Bernero." 

The mayor wants to add annual fees for city water and electricity customers. Conversely, the council wants to make several spending cuts including eliminating several new positions the mayor wants to add to the city's payroll. Mayor Virg Bernero will have until Thursday to veto parts of the city budget he doesn’t like. The Lansing city council has until early June to try to override the mayor’s expected vetoes.

Higher education opportunities piloted in Michigan prisons

"After years without funding for prisoners to access higher education, the Michigan Department of Corrections is immersed in several efforts to teach community college courses and vocational training in-house to a small number of inmates who are near parole. Michigan will join a pilot project that hopes to gather enough evidence to possibly resurrect publicly supported postsecondary education in prisons nationally," reports The Detroit News.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last night, the Lansing city council took the unusual step of passing a resolution that the city attorney says is “unenforceable”. 

The resolution is intended to define how city council members themselves can use their city issued lap top computers.   The resolution came about in the wake of allegations that one of the city council members had misused their laptop.

A’Lynne Boles-Robinson is the council vice president.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor is proposing its municipal utility customers pay more to balance the city’s budget next year.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero outlined his budget plan to the city council last night.   Bernero says the city’s budget problems are not quite as serious as expected.    The mayor says better than expected property tax collections and lower than expected city employee health care costs had cut the project budget deficit in half.

Still, Bernero says the city needs to close about a five million dollar budget gap.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council picks a new council president tomorrow.  

It’s a selection process that has proved contentious in the past.

Last year, it took a deadlocked Lansing City Council more than a dozen votes to break a four to four stalemate to select a city council president.

The deadlock summed up the even political split on the city council.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing city council members are upset that the city’s mayor left last week on a trip to Europe and didn’t bother to tell them.

Mayor Virg Bernero is on a week-long ‘economic mission’ in Italy. But city council members first heard the mayor was gone from news reports.

The mayor’s spokesman says Bernero remains in contact with the city by phone and email.

Councilwoman Carol Wood says that's not good enough if there is a sudden crisis.

“Having to make split second decisions… doesn’t happen with waiting for the mayor to send us an email,” says Wood.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing voters will decide Tuesday how often they want their city council to meet.

The Lansing city council is required to meet 50 times a year.  That’s far more often than most councils.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Mayor Virg Bernero today vetoed a portion of the city budget plan approved by the Lansing City Council Monday night. 

The city council now has two weeks to see if it can override the veto. 

In the next few days, Lansing mayor Virg Bernero is expected to veto all or part of the budget plan the city council passed. 

Bernero indicated his intention to veto the budget during a sometimes contentious city council meeting last night.    He did little, if anything, to conceal his contempt for the changes the city council made to the budget plan he submitted two months ago.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing City Council will vote this evening on the city’s budget plan for next year.

The vote may set up a veto fight with Lansing’s mayor.

Back in March, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told the city council how he thought the city should try to deal with a projected $4.7 million budget deficit next year. 

Tonight, it’s the city council’s turn.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Rising pension costs may throw a monkey wrench into the city of Lansing’s plans to hire police officers next year.

Lansing’s mayor proposed using money from a special public safety millage to rehire nine laid off police officers.    But the mayor’s office released a draft report Monday which says the city will have to come up with nearly two million dollars next year to cover rising police and fire pension costs.  

The Lansing City Council is taking more time to review next year’s budget plan.

Council has delayed its vote on the budget from May 14th to May 21st.

Councilwoman Carol Wood says there are “holes” in the mayor’s budget plan.

“Those holes have not been plugged. All we’re being told is they might be filled," says Wood,  "And I can’t pass in good conscience for the taxpayers of the city of Lansing. I can’t pass a budget that way.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Waverly golf course in Lansing could be a developer’s dream.    

City council president Brian Jeffries calls the 120 acre parcel of parkland ‘prime development property.’     

Still, the city council has been waffling on whether to ask voters for permission to sell the property. 

But now…it appears likely the council will put the issue on the August ballot when it meets on Monday.   

The sale could mean much needed revenue for the city, which is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit next year. 

(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)

Lansing voters will decide next year if their city council should meet less often.    

The city council approved putting a charter change question on the ballot. It would cut in half the number of times the council is required to meet. Currently the council is required to formally meet 50 times a year, or almost once a week.   

The vote won’t happen until August. Council members worried there wouldn’t be enough Lansing voters turning out for February’s Republican presidential primary to weigh in on the question. 

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope has been pushing the reduced council meeting schedule. Swope says he’s fine with waiting until August for the vote.   

“So it will be a while…but it’s been kind of a long term thing that I’ve worked on …I’m just glad to have it be moving forward," says Swope.    

Swope hopes by meeting less often Lansing city council members will be more efficient in how they handle the city’s business.    

If it’s approved,  the charter change would take effect in 2013. 

In other Lansing city council business:   

The council shot down other proposed ballot questions that would have allowed the sale of Waverly Golf Course and the Vector building.   The council did approve an ordinance authorizing an historic district designation for the old Knapps building downtown.   The ordinance will help with the planned renovation of the former department store site.

(courtesy of the Lansing Economic Development Corp.)

The Lansing city council may agree tonight to ask voters to decide if part of a closed city golf course can be sold.   The land is being eyed for future business development. 

The proposal to sell part of the closed Red Cedar golf course has been stuck in a Lansing city council subcommittee since last spring.    Some council members said they wanted more information. 

City Council President A’Lynne Robinson is optimistic the council can get it unstuck this week.