Roads, Retiree Healthcare and Pensions Focal Points Of New Lansi - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Roads, Retiree Healthcare and Pensions Focal Points Of New Lansing Budget

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) –For the first time in a decade, the proposed Lansing city budget will begin with a surplusinstead of a deficit.

Mayor Virg Bernero said on Monday the city has finally reached short-termfiscal stability, however, long-term challenges dealing with pensions andretiree healthcare persist. "The cost for these employee benefits continues torise faster than our revenues, and it crowds out our ability to provideessential services that our citizens expect and deserve, such as police, fireand roads," said Bernero, who has asked former Mayor David Hollister toreconvene the Financial Health Team to assist with making a number of fiscal decisionsin the city.

"We have big decisions to make about city hall and other facilities, and the FHTwill help guide us," said Bernero."This will include a review of land or other assets that can be sold becausethey are no longer needed."

Bernero also said the budget places a heavy emphasis on road infrastructure,and while the 2015 proposed budget has about $1.5 million set aside for roads, Lansing will still needhelp from the state to make adequate improvements. "Roadinfrastructure has been grossly under-supported. Decades of disinvestment willnot be made up in one years or two years. We need a major commitment from thestate," said Bernero. "There is no way Lansingor any city can meet the demand that is there…it will affect quality of life;it will affect economic development." In addition to $1.5 million for roads, $370,000will be set aside in the budget for sidewalks.

Other budget recommendations include $2.2 million for technology improvements,funds for new police cars, radio equipment, new fire safety equipment and moneyfor a contracted social media manager position. "It became clear in the lastemergency just how much folks are increasingly turning to social media," saidBernero.

City Council President A'Lynne Boles said while council did not receive thebudget proposal in advance and had little time to synthesize the information, overallshe's pleased and looks forward to coming to a final agreement. "I'm thrilled. I've beenpresident and in leadership before--3 different cycles of the budget processwhen this was not the case," said Boles.

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