3 takeaways from Tuesday's City Council meeting
The East Lansing City Council met Tuesday evening for the first time this fall. Below are three takeaways from the meeting.
Park District Project
The Park District Project has a public hearing meeting scheduled for Sept. 19 to consider Plan 11.
The plan had previously been terminated, but in order to keep the income tax credits, the developer must revert to Plan 11, City Attorney Thomas Yeadon said.
“It would be doubtful that Plan 26 would then proceed, but the developer advises me that if these tax credits go away, they’re still going to go ahead as per the agreement to tear down those buildings regardless in October,” Yeadon said.
Liquor license for Charlie Kang’s
The council approved Charlie Kang’s request for a liquor license. The license is Class C and SDM, which means sales on Sunday are permitted.
The restaurant is allowed to be open until midnight and serve alcohol until closing, and it must serve food until 11:30 p.m.
That means it must comply with the 50/50 ordinance, which states restaurants in East Lansing that serve alcohol must derive half of their revenue from food sales. But Owner Amy Kang is not concerned.
“We’re not trying to open a bar or anything,” Kang said. “We just want people to have better dining experience.”
Charlie Kang’s is also moving to 109 E. Grand River Ave., as part of the Center City District construction.
The city council did not remove the income tax proposal from the November ballot, after MSU rejected the last offer from the city Tuesday morning.
The final offer was $20 million from MSU over the course of eight years and after the payments ended, the city could put the income tax back on the ballot, Mayor Mark Meadows said.
MSU wanted the city to wait an additional two years after the payments stopped, Meadows said.
“I want to compliment President Simon for her reaction to that and for the administration staff that was assisting her,” Meadows said. “I think they received that proposal enthusiastically and I know that she went to her board and advocated on behalf of this resolution of this issue. Regrettably the board rejected that proposal.”
Moving forward with the income tax, Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier said she wanted people to remember that if the income tax is passed, there will be a reduction in property taxes.
Possible exemptions will be discussed in the coming weeks, Meadows said.
The council also addressed the possibility of the vote failing and what would come next.
The tax is expected to raise about $5 million annually, councilmember Erik Altmann said. Of that, $3 million will go to pensions, $1 million to infrastructure and $1 million to city operations.
“I guess we don’t have to pave our streets,” Altmann said. “We can continue to drive on gravel. But we do have to make our pension payments so we have to find that $3 million annually somewhere. And that means that we’re finding $3 million in a $34 million budget to cut because we have to make those payments.”
Even cutting the entire Parks and Recreations Department will only save $2 million, which is not enough to make the pension payments, Altmann said.
“There is no way to find $3 million in cuts without going after public safety because it’s two thirds of our budget,” Altmann said. “A police officer or firefighter costs about $100,000 a year, that’s salary plus benefits. Which I think is a very good deal for the city.”
At that price, 30 public safety officers must be cut out of about 100, Altmann said.
“If the proposal fails, the message from the vote will be we have to find $3 million to cut from the city budget,” Altmann said.
City employees do not deserve to be laid off, councilmember Susan Woods said.
“They have been the sacrificial lamb in all of this and so we really want to support them,” Woods said.