Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero releases 2016 State of the City report

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero released his written annual report on the state of the city, but he won’t be giving his speech until March.

Progress has been made – but there’s more to accomplish.

In his state of the city report, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says, “the state of our city is good and getting better,” citing improvements in job creation, neighborhood partnerships and technological advancements.

But despite the progress, Lansing City Council President Judi Brown Clarke says there’s still work to be done.

“We have very good news, but we also have an opportunity to still grow and get, um, fiscally sound, so, there’s good and challenging news,” Clarke said.

One big challenge will be solving the city’s long-term unfunded liabilities, which is currently estimated at $650 million.

That’s money retired city employees are to receive in coming years for pensions and healthcare.

Former Lansing Mayor David Hollister is the chairperson of the city’s Financial Health Team. Hollister says it’s been a problem that’s been growing for ten years.

“Every year, more and more people retire, the city doesn’t replace them, so there’s fewer and fewer employees, more and more retirees, and they’re spending more and more on healthcare,” Hollister said.

Hollister says more than $200 million dollars has been taken out of other city expenses to help with the issue, and he hopes the Financial Health Team comes up with a recommendation by the end of the year.

Mayor Bernero’s report also outlines the activities and accomplishments of several city departments during 2015.

Clarke says she’s optimistic about this year.

“There is definitely optimism, but there’s also realism,” Clarkes said. “And I think that realism is that caution of… if we don’t make good decisions, that could undermine the progress.”

And progress is exactly what the Mayor wants to see.

The 2016 State of the City Address will be delivered on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. Mayor Bernero said the change in timing “allows a closer alignment” between his speech and the beginning of Lansing’s next fiscal year budget cycle.

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