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November ballot will include proposal to annex Groesbeck neighborhood into the city of Lansing

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The Lansing City Council has voted this week to include a proposal on the general election ballot that, if approved, would annex the Groesbeck neighborhood into the city. Groesbeck is a part of Lansing Township right now, but the community is currently millions of dollars in debt.

That’s largely due to the development of The Heights at Eastwood, advocates of the annexation say. Township officials had hoped the apartment and shopping center would boost the area economically, though its commercial space has remained mostly vacant. The debt the township owes amounts to nearly $34 million dollars.

John DeMarco lives in the area and is one of the proposal’s organizers. He says annexing the neighborhood to Lansing would bring stability to the area.

"We feel the annexation would be good for us just because of the uncertainty of all the things that are going on at The Heights," he said.

According to Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, Groesbeck residents make up 20% of the township's taxpayers, which means if annexed the city would be responsible for 20% of its debt, or a little over $6 million dollars.

"Which is, over 18 years, it's about $250,000 a year. So they bring $250,000 a year in debt, but to balance that, they also bring about a million and a half in property and income taxes," he said.

The proposal managed to gather fewer than 200 signatures to be included in the ballot.

Will Simons, a Groesbeck resident, says he's still undecided on the proposal.

"For a few people, who all seem to know each other, to go out and collect the minimum signatures without ever discussing broadly within the entire community seems disingenuous," he said. "I have many misgivings about the township operation, but I don't think annexation to the city is necessarily the right option."

Simons says he would like to see financial breakdown on how the annexation will affect the rate of property taxes for him and his neighbors.

"If the Lansing mayor is willing to absorb the pro-rated debt of the incoming annexed properties and still expects a large tax base increase, that means our taxes are going up again," he added.

Residents in Lansing Township pay a rate of 10.6 mills on property taxes according to its treasurer's office. In the city of Lansing, tax rates are 17.45 mills according to the city treasurer office.

More than half of the nearly 2,000 residents in the Groesbeck neighborhood would need to approve the proposal on Nov. 8 for it to pass.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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