East Lansing income tax rejected by voters, what does that mean for the city?

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The city of East Lansing is examining its options after voters turned down a proposal to add a 1% income tax hike for those who live in the city.

Non-residents who work in East Lansing would have seen a .5% tax increase.

Here are the numbers from Tuesday night:

The final vote was 3,259 against the income tax bump with 2,878 in favor.

The income tax proposal was connected to a property tax reduction on the ballot but the property tax reduction would only happen if the income tax hike was approved.

So, what does this all mean for East Lansing?

City officials tell 6 News reporter Alysia Burgio…budget cuts.

“We have a plan already prepared to reduce the budget by five percent,” said East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows.

Meadows says that includes decreasing the number of both police and fire personnel.

“This was well known during the vote and people made that decision,” Meadows stated.

Meadows says the only other option would be…

“Putting on the ballot the 2 mil public safety property tax so increasing your property tax again,” said Meadows.

The city has already made cuts from other departments so Meadows says East Lansing has no choice but to do the same towards police and fire.

“We were hoping for a different outcome but we respect the will of the people, the city of East Lansing and moving forward we’ll just have to put everything on the table and decide what services we can continue to do and at what level,” said East Lansing Police Lieutenant Chad Connelly.

“The question becomes how much more can you cut without eliminating the service entirely?” Meadows asked.

The income tax boost was a negotiation between East Lansing and Michigan State University for months with both sides trying to reach a deal that would financially make sense for the city and university.

But now that the income tax proposal fell through, MSU’s offer to pay East Lansing $20 million over the course of ten years, isn’t even an option anymore.

MSU spokesperson Jason Cody told 6 News:

“That offer was contingent on the city not pursuing an income tax but we are always willing to discuss the health and vibrancy of East Lansing officials with the city.

“Everything is on the table at this point and time,” said Meadows.

So, what’s next for East Lansing?

Mayor Meadows says the city will consider other options that include putting a public safety millage as well as a road and parks millage on the ballot next year and even looking deeper into the general fund just to name a few.

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