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Virg Bernero

(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.

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 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.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

City residents are questioning how Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero plans to spend money from a recent property tax hike.

The tax hike was approved last year. Many voters expected the money would be spent to hire back dozens of police officers and firefighters laid off in recent years. But Mayor Bernero's plan calls for bringing back just seven public safety officers.

Bernero says he’d like to hire more cops, but the city can’t afford it.

"I’m not going to hire people that I’ve got to turn around and fire tomorrow. I’m not going to do it," says Bernero.

Some Lansing city council members complain the mayor wants to spend money on rehabbing a building for the police department. That's money they say could be spent hiring police officers.

Brian Jeffries is the Lansing City Council president. He wants more money spent on rehiring laid off police officers and firefighters.

"We thought we’d get more police out there.  That’s what we thought.   We thought we’d get more fire personnel out there," says Jeffries, "Basically all we’re being told is this is just going to back stop any future losses.”

The city council has until the middle of May to approve or change the mayor’s budget proposal. The council will hold its own public hearing tonight.

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.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero plans to tell the city council tonight how he plans to cut nearly five million dollars to balance the capital city’s budget.

That fact that Lansing is only facing about a five million dollar budget gap next year is actually good news.   Last fall, the mayor’s office was predicting the city might be facing up to a 15 million dollar shortfall.

But Mayor Bernero says voter approval of a special public safety millage, lower health care costs and more state revenue sharing money than expected has improved Lansing’s revenue picture.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing business and union leaders came out to a public hearing last night to support a proposed casino project in the city’s downtown.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million dollar casino next to the city's downtown convention center.   

Two previous community forums drew a parade of casino critics who warned gambling will increase crime and cause other problems in the capitol city.   Last night, it was the supporters' turn to make their case. 

The proposed Lansing casino project has picked up a key endorsement. But there is some controversy of about the decision by a city economic development agency.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a new $245 million casino in downtown Lansing.  One small parcel of land critical to the project is owned by the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.   The LEDC has given its approval to the deal, which will see the group’s parcel turned into a temporary casino while construction on the main casino proceeds.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero painted a generally optimistic picture in his ‘State of the City’ speech last night. But the mayor also raised the specter of an emergency manager as well.   

“Unlike Flint…Pontiac…Benton Harbor and others who ignored the warning signs…we will not falter…we will act," Bernero told a capacity crowd inside the Accident Fund insurance company building last evening.

The mayor veered away from the positive tone that dominated his ‘State of the City’ address when he referenced Michigan cities that have fallen under the power of emergency managers.

No one’s talking about an emergency manager for the capitol city. But after the speech, Bernero said planning for next year’s city budget will be 'ugly' and 'painful', when it comes to closing a projected $7,000,000 budget deficit.

"The point is tough decisions must be made," Bernero says, "If we don’t, the state will be there…to swoop in and do it for us.”

Bernero’s ‘State of the City’ address mainly touched upon common themes the mayor has spoken about in the past, including the need for regional cooperation with other local governments and aggressive economic development.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will deliver his State of the City address this evening. The mayor is expected to stress Lansing is rebounding from the recession in tonight’s speech.

Over the weekend, the mayor’s office called attention to a new survey that found Lansing is leading the nation’s metropolitan areas in the growth of manufacturing jobs.

But Lansing’s job picture is complex. Last week, the state labor department reported Lansing’s December jobless rate stood at 6.9 percent, nearly 1.5 percent lower than December 2010.

However, the actual number of people with jobs in Lansing remained unchanged. The only difference was nearly 4,000 people left the job market.

The site of the mayor’s speech is part of the message. Mayor Bernero will speak at a former electric power plant, that after a $182 million renovation has become the headquarters for an insurance company. The mayor is also expected to talk about another project, a controversial plan to build a casino in downtown Lansing.

Lansing voters will decide on election day  whether they want to increase their property taxes.    

It’s the second time they’ve been asked this year. The first time they said ‘no’.    

Sitting at his dining room table, as three of his sons watch cartoons on a TV in the next room, Paul Johns recalled a time when he thought he smelled smoke in his south Lansing home.  

Michigan Municipal League

The Occupy movement has expanded beyond Wall Street. A number of cities in Michigan have Occupy demonstrations, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero says he's been "..protesting Wall Street since before it was fashionable." He welcomes the demonstrators.

"It costs money to arrest people and to cordon off areas. And so our goal was to not arrest anybody, and we made that clear when they got here."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Davenport University says the process of acquiring an empty apartment complex in Lansing has gotten too ‘political’.    So Davenport is dropping its bid for the ‘Oliver Towers’.   

Davenport offered to swap its current downtown campus for the property just north of the state capital building, where it planned to build a new college campus.   But the Lansing City Council stalled the deal, to consider a competing offer from Lansing Community College.     

Davenport University President Richard Pappas says the deal is now off the table. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero calls it a ‘debacle’.    

The battle between two local colleges over an empty apartment building is in a holding pattern.   

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council is facing November deadlines to act on a pair of high dollar agreements.   But at least one council member complains they are not getting all the information they need about the deals.  

The Lansing city council scheduled time last night to discuss a proposed tax deal involving the capital city’s airport and a land swap deal with a local college. But both discussions were cut short because of a lack of information.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Lansing officials hope a proposed deal with a private college will help the city replace a long empty public housing complex with a new campus.   The Oliver Towers have sat largely unused since a fire a decade ago.   Numerous attempts to find a new use for the site, a few blocks from the state capitol, have failed to pan out.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing voters will decide in November if the city can sell 12 acres of city parkland for future private development. A divided city council last night agreed to put the question on the ballot. There's no developer or actual plan on the table yet for the Red Cedar golf course land. 

Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation. He says the making the land available will help the city market it to potential developers.  

“It strikes us as a great area to try to develop."  

Several city council members questioned whether the city should focus on getting previous economic development plans working before starting new ones. Councilman Eric Hewitt voted against moving the parkland sale before the voters. He says the city's track record in similar projects is not good.  

"We’ve had all these other ‘visions’…we’ve had lots of ‘gateways’…but none of them have seemed to come about.”

Mayor Virg Bernero says the proceeds of the sale of the Red Cedar land could be channeled into improving Lansing's other city parks.

(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.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Time is running out for the city of Lansing to win new contract concessions from its labor unions.  Meanwhile, another round of layoff notices will soon go to some city employees.  

Lansing’s mayor’s office continues to negotiate with union leaders seeking 3 million dollars in concessions before the city’s new budget takes effect July 1st.   Mayor Virg Bernero says the city and the unions are talking in good faith to avoid possible layoffs.  

The city of Lansing is facing a projected $20 million dollar budget deficit. 

On Monday, the city council is scheduled to vote on a budget intended to close that gap.   As it stands now, the city may have to lay off dozens of police officers and firefighters, as well as making other painful spending cuts to balance the budget.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says he's presenting his 2012 fiscal year budget plan with a heavy heart. The city is facing a $20 million budget gap next year. Bernero says this requires a tough and painful response. 

He's proposing eliminating 200 positions. One hundred and thirty of these jobs are currently filled. Bernero's budget fall particularly hard on the city's public safety department. More than 50 Lansing police officers would be laid off and three fire stations will be closed under Bernero's budget. Bernero says he doesn't relish cuts, but with employee costs being the largest part of the city's budget, he has little choice. 

Bernero says the need for deep spending cuts might be lessened if state revenue sharing is not as deep as proposed by Governor Snyder. He says Lansing voters could help as well if they approve a millage increase on the May 3rd ballot.  

But Bernero says he has to propose a budget now with the "cards" the city's been dealt. Bernero says the city has already made all the easy cuts.    

Photo courtesy of VoteVirg.com

Lansing Mayor, and former Michigan gubernatorial candidate, Virg Bernero delivers his city's 2012 budget to the Lansing City Council tonight. It's being reported this morning that Bernero will propose a budget that contains $20 million in cuts.

The Lansing State Journal reports:

In the run-up to Monday's formal budget presentation, Bernero's staffers have sent signals about the magnitude of possible cuts. Among the most notable: the potential closure of three fire stations and elimination of 60 positions in the Fire Department.

As the Lansing State Journal explains, Lansing, like many other cities and townships across the state, is, "caught between competing budget pressures. First is the drop off in revenue from local property taxes and from promised aid from the state government. City budgeters also have to cope with rising costs, particularly on pensions and on health care for workers and retirees alike."

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero delivered his sixth state of the city address last night.  He had a lot to say about past accomplishments,  but said next to nothing about the city’s projected $15 million budget deficit. 

Look around and see for yourself, it’s happening in Lansing.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero told the audience during his state of the city address.  To that end, Bernero  spoke a lot about recent business investment in the capitol city.

He didn’t speak directly to Lansing’s projected $15 million budget deficit. He did suggest part of the budget problem can be found across the street from Lansing city hall at the state capitol. 

City budgets across Michigan are on life support.   The loss of property tax values means the loss of property tax revenue.  High unemployment means the loss of income tax revenue.  And the continued failure of state government to manage its own budget problems has cost of tens of millions in state shared revenues.

Bernero also said Lansing needs to work with its neighbors to deal with a variety of regional problems.

Photo courtesy of www.votevirg.com

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero delivered his sixth State of the City address last night. As Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports, he had a lot to say about past accomplishments but said next to nothing about the city's projected $15 million dollar budget deficit:

"Look around and see for yourself, it's happening in Lansing," Bernero said. That was the theme of Lansing mayor Virg Bernero's state of the city address.

To that end, Bernero spoke a lot about recent business investment in the capitol city.  He didn't speak directly to Lansing's projected $15 million budget deficit.

He did suggest part of the budget problem can be found across the street from Lansing city hall at the state capitol.

"City budgets across Michigan are on life support.   The loss of property tax values means the loss of property tax revenue.  High unemployment means the loss of income tax revenue.  And the continued failure of state government to manage its own budget problems has cost of tens of millions in state shared revenues," Bernero said.

Bernero also said Lansing needs to work with its neighbors to deal with a variety of regional problems.

Bernero was the Democratic nominee in Michigan's 2010 Gubernatorial race. He lost the race to his Republican opponent Rick Snyder. Snyder delivered his first State of the State address as Governor last Wednesday evening.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The City of Lansing is facing a potential $15 million budget deficit.   City Finance Director Jerry Ambrose says there is a growing chasm between Lansing’s projected spending needs fiscal year 2012 and the city’s projected revenue. FY2012 begins June 30th, 2011.  Ambrose says the city expects to spend $118 million next year delivering city services, but city revenues are only expected to reach $103 million. Ambrose says in a written statement:

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

As we've been reporting, yesterday was the last day for candidates who ran in Michigan’s 2010 election to report how much money they raised during the campaign season.

According to Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign finance reports, he spent almost $11 million during the campaign; $6 million of which was his own.

The Associated Press reports that Snyder’s largest donors were, “Pistons owner Karen Davidson and former Bechtel Group co-owner Stephen Bechtel and his wife, Elizabeth, of San Francisco.”

Snyder’s opponent in the race for governor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Photo courtesy of www.votevirg.com

The Lansing State Journal takes a look today at what Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro has been up to since losing the Michigan gubernational election earlier this month to Republican Rick Snyder.

In an article titled, "After failed bid for governor, it's business as usual for Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro," the LSJ reports:

Bernero wants to turn his attention to economic development... and preparations for 600 new jobs at General Motors Co.'s Lansing Grand River plant.  There's also "a few other things we haven't even yet announced economic-wise," Bernero said.  Lansing's cash-strapped budget also should keep him occupied, he said.  "I am the mayor," Bernero said. "I'm excited about doing the job and I'm excited about where we are...You'll have to stay tuned."

Last year, Bernero won a 2nd four-year term as Lansing mayor.

When asked whether he would run for another political job, Bernero told the LSJ, it was, "hard to say," and that there's, "plenty of time to think about it."

Update 1:53am: The race in the 9th district has been called. Gary Peters (D) has defeated Rocky Raczkowski (R).

Update: 1:07am Waiting on one race in Michigan. The race for Michigan's 9th congressional district between Gary Peters (D) and Rocky Raczkowski (R) has yet to be called. So far, of the 15 Michigan congressional districts 9 have gone to republicans and 5 have gone to democrats.

With one day to go before Election Day, the candidates running for Governor will spend the day traveling around the state getting out their campaign messages.  Democratic nominee Virg Bernero will start his day in Detroit and end it in Lansing.  Republican candidate Rick Sndyer will make stops in Portland and Ann Arbor.

Photo by MBisanz/Creative Commons

With four days to go before Election Day, a new EPIC-MRA poll shows continued support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder over his opponent Democrat Virg Bernero.  The poll shows 55% of those surveyed support Snyder to Bernero's 37%.  4% were undecided. 

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