Lansing City Council votes 6-1 to approve contested budget amendment


UPDATE: The battle over a city budget amendment between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and City Council Member Carol Wood has come to an end for now.

Thursday night ahead of the looming midnight deadline, the two sides came to a final decision as Lansing City Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of the proposed budget amendment.

Thursday’s vote means the city will now allocate $450,000 in the budget for 10 new Lansing police cars.

It’s a controversial move that’s caused friction between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Council Member Carol Wood who both have very different opinions on spending priorities when it comes to the public safety in the city.

It was a room full of heated opinions at Thursday’s special Lansing City Council meeting as the controversial vote triggered emotions from several council members.

“To be attacked because we don’t agree with what the mayor wants is reprehensible and so as we go forward I would hope we could get just a little more respect,” said Lansing City Council member Jody Washington.

The main issue involves these police vehicles plagued with flat tires, dents and engine problems.

And whether or not to use remaining cash from the existing city budget to buy new ones.

“Having a few extra dollars in our budget at the end of fiscal year vehicles was one of those needs not wants but needs,” said Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski.

But Lansing City Council Member Carol Wood says the city should first find a way to fill the over vacant police and fire positions in the city before buying new patrol cars.

And members of the community agree.

“You can make an argument that you can have all these nice new vehicles but if you don’t have officers to drive in them they’re not going to do anything,” said Sean Bertolino of Williamston.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the world and you never know when your city is going to end up needed extra funds for emergencies and to have it all gone is not a smart idea.”

6 News caught up with Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero just moments after the council approved the budget.

“When I got the message from my guy I talked to a couple police officers I told them it passed they were delighted,” said Mayor Bernero.

Bernero adds the issue isn’t about politics but instead about our city’s police officers who need the proper equipment to save lives.

“You gotta have the cars, that’s basic, that’s policing 101, you gotta be able to get there, you gotta be able to respond to the 911 call. That’s all I was saying that’s why I offered the budget amendment,” said Mayor Bernero.

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – There is an update for you tonight on a budget battle in Lansing that’s come down to the wire.

Mayor Virg Bernero and council member Carol Wood have been clashing over some money left over in the city’s finances.

Just before 6:00 p.m. the battle was resolved when the council approved the budget amendment by a 6-1 vote.

The main issue up for debate with this amendment involves police vehicles in need of replacement.

Specifically, whether or not to use remaining cash from the existing city budget to fund new ones.

In total, Lansing needs to replace more than 20 police vehicles, 10 of which have racked up over 90,000 miles.

Mayor Bernero says it’s about time city dollars are spent on long term investments in the Lansing Police Department instead of short term fixes.

But council member Wood says instead the extra cash should be spent on hiring officers to fill those vehicles and getting them to stay.

Tonight’s meeting was crucial because council was required to vote on the budget amendment before midnight.

That’s because tonight marks the end of the current fiscal year and the move is required by state law.

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