East Lansing officials work for financial fix

East Lansing City Council Members gathered this morning to go over the fate of their funding.

A fate that could leave them facing some serious financial problems in the next few years.

You never know what the future might hold, but East Lansing officials say it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see there is a serious financial challenge coming for the city.

“We have some real issues with revenue shortages in the city and so it’s really important to hear kind of what have we already done, where have those costs been cut, what are some of the options going forward, and ya know to get us thinking about what those budget items look like,” says East Lansing City Council Member, Shanna Draheim.

Draheim says, the city needs to figure out where it stands in terms of overall costs, and what the budget might look like in five years from now.

A forecast that Mayor Mark Meadows agrees, is a critical element to the decision making process in East Lansing.

“If we’ve got a financial problem, which it looks like we do, we have to figure out now, how are we going to approach that,” says Mayor Meadows.

That financial problem includes a $1.6 million budget deficit.

And that’s just for this year.

“The revenue challenges from the State from property taxes don’t provide us the tools to be able to provide the level of government service we think our residents need,” claims East Lansing City Manager, George Lahanas.

Officials say, if the city continues on without a solution, their current fund balance would be completely depleted in just 2-3 years.

“Over the next few years, that gap grows to two million, then two and a half, then three and a half million, so it’s a systemic problem we’re looking at going forward unfortunately,” says Draheim.

So how do city officials make a change?

Council members are hoping to come up with a list of options, looking across departments to find new sources of revenue.

Either adding fees in services, a change in the property tax system, or asking voters to sign off on an income tax on city residents.

Whatever the decision, it must be approved by May.

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