City officials discuss next steps for East Lansing budget

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s been nearly a month since East Lansing residents rejected an income tax proposal that would have generated around $5-million annually for the city.

Now, East Lansing city officials are still trying to figure out how they can come up with that money.

On Sunday, city council members held a “special budget meeting” where they worked to create a draft of a financial plan for the next two years.

“I am compelled to draw your attention to the unique opportunity that does seem quite timely which is the concept of a municipally owned medical marijuana dispensary,” said a community member during public comment.

“I’d love to see marijuana bail us out but I’m not sure we can count on it,” another community member stated.

These are just two of the many suggestions community members shared on how the city of East Lansing could generate revenue.

According to East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows, the city needs roughly $3-$4-million to save its general fund.

“The more money we can put in to the unfunded liability, the quicker this stops being a problem,” said Mayor Meadows.

Meadows says council members got together on Sunday to go back to the drawing board to toss around ideas on how to cut the budget in order to build revenue.

He says that could involve closing the doors to community gathering centers, programs and making cuts to fire and police personnel just to name a few.

“If we do need more revenue that has to go to the pension unfunded liability, then we have to find that in the existing budget and reduce those programs in order to make that contribution,” Mayor Meadows stated.

East Lansing City Council member Aaron Stephens is urging the community to continue making their voices heard during this crucial time.

“Communication is going to be the biggest aspect to this because I think there are a lot of members in the community that understand the restraints that we’re under and understand the situation, but there are a lot of members that don’t,” said Stephens.

While no solutions were made at Sunday’s meeting, it was a way to brainstorm ideas and showcase the value of suggested cuts in the city.

“We’re going to have really tough decisions over the next few months but those tough decisions need to be 100% vetted by the community,” Stephens stated.

A decision on how to move forward with East Lansing’s budget has to be made by the beginning of next year.

The next city council meeting will be held Tuesday, December 12th at City Hall to discuss East Lansing’s budget further.

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