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Lansing mayor wants voters to OK tax to fund $175M for new police, fire, court facilities

Front of Lansing city hall building with cars parked out front.
WKAR-MSU
Earlier this year, the city sent out a request for proposals as part of an effort to relocate Lansing City Hall, but Mayor Andy Schor says he's prioritizing these new public safety facilities first.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor wants voters to let the city borrow money to bankroll construction of a nearly $175 million public safety complex that includes police, fire and court facilities.

To do so, he's asking the City Council to place what's expected to be a 3.9-mill property tax on the Nov. 8 ballot.

If approved by voters, the 30-year tax would cost the average Lansing homeowner $153 a year, city officials said.

Among other improvements, Schor says the proposal would include new police and fire headquarters, a new jail and new courtrooms with modernized security for District Court 54A.

City officials also hope to renovate several fire stations. Those facilities are so old that they lack separate locker rooms and showers for male and female firefighters, Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant said.

"We actually have signs that we place when the female firefighters are occupying those facilities, and we lock the doors," Sturdivant said. "In my mind, that's a recipe for something not so pleasant possibly happening, and we just want to, you know, protect not only the city from a risk management standpoint, but we also want to protect our members."

It's not yet clear where the new public safety facility would be built or when the city could break ground, assuming the council approves advancing the measure to the ballot and voters agree to issue bonds, Schor said.

But, the mayor argued, the upgrades are long overdue. He pitched the tax during a press conference Monday, flanked by some of the plan's supporters, including Lansing's police and fire chiefs, two district court judges and local union leaders.

"Instead of doing small fixes, we have decided to rip the band-aid off and go to the voters and ask for support," Schor said. "Waiting any longer ... just means it will be more expensive.”

Earlier this year, the city sent out a request for proposals as part of Schor's latest efforts to relocate Lansing City Hall, a 64-year-old downtown building that currently houses a host of administrative offices along with District Court 54A.

As of now, the plan is to focus on getting voter approval for replacing court, police and fire facilities before dealing with the rest of City Hall, Schor said Monday.

"We're going to take step one," Schor said. "Step one is getting an effective and appropriate location for our police department, our fire department, our courts, our lockup (and) getting all that into one building that is a 2022 building ... (and) not a 1950s building."

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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