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Lansing City Council adopts $271 million budget focused on public safety and housing

Lansing's City Council sits at the half-circle shaped dais.
Arjun Thakkar
/
WKAR-MSU
A photo from the first meeting of the Lansing City Council in 2024.

Lansing’s budget for the next fiscal year is on its way to Mayor Andy Schor’s desk after the City Council approved a spending plan focused on investing in public safety staffing, supporting major street repairs and maintaining city services.

The plan approved by the council on Monday calls for a $271.4 million budget with a general fund of $165.8 million, an increase compared to the current budget.

“I think that that we really have a very good budget for this next year that reflects all of our priorities for this city,” Schor said. “And there's a lot of good work to be done.”

Officials cited investments in Lansing’s fire and police departments as a major focus for future spending. The more than $100 million budget for public safety allocates funding to hire two new firefighters and a program to train additional paramedics.

Schor additionally included a projected $3.5 million in his proposal that could be generated if a revenue sharing bill sitting in the Michigan Senate were to be approved. The bill would allow a portion of state sales tax revenue to go toward public safety initiatives — including hiring additional police officers and funding gun violence intervention programs.

The mayor said the funding is necessary to fill the city’s law enforcement vacancies.

“I'm spending a lot of time trying to get the Legislature to pass the money so we can have 15 more cops,” Schor said

Other allocations in the budget include a one-time expenditure of $9.7 million to fund repairs for major streets, a budgeted position to hire an additional arborist and use of $800,000 in state funding to support the city’s homeless population. $700,000 is also set aside for sidewalk repairs.

The council approved three amendments to the budget totaling around $850,000.

City Councilmember Peter Spadafore introduced an amendment that directs $350,000 to study how the city could create an “Office of Neighborhood Safety.” The department would complement other crime intervention programs, according to Spadafore, like ones led by the organization Advance Peace to coordinate a gun violence and assault reduction strategy across the city.

“Our law enforcement folks do a great job,” Spadafore said. “But this is about the front end of that before law enforcement becomes necessary and working on engaging with our citizens to reduce harm specifically related to firearms.”

Councilmember Brian Jackson opposed the measure. He expressed skepticism that duplicating gun violence prevention efforts that other organizations are undertaking would make a tangible difference in the community.

“The people who are committing gun violence, they don't know anything about the city government departments. Their reality is trying to make opportunities, trying to find opportunities," he said. "I don't know if adding a department is going to help change anybody's realities on to ground."

Officials also added an amendment to hire an additional code compliance officer to support building safety inspections conducted by Lansing’s Department of Economic Development and Planning, which monitors homes that have been red-tagged and deemed unfit for occupancy. Councilmember Adam Hussain said the additional staffing would reduce strain in the department.

“We've added hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of units during my time on council,” Hussain said. “The fact [is] that we haven't added any additional ... capacity within code to actually make sure that we're inspecting reinspecting in a timely and appropriate way to make sure that our housing stock remains safe.”

The code compliance officer position would be funded by $125,000 that’s expected to be funded by an updated fee schedule.

A separate amendment allocated $375,000 to go to the 54-A District Court program to support tenants threatened with eviction.

The budget allocates $500,000 to a disaster relief fund, and officials say the proposal does not pull dollars out of the city’s reserves.

The budget now heads to Mayor Schor, who has three days to act on the document under the City Charter. The mayor expressed support for the spending plan Monday night, but he does have authority to veto line-item provisions.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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