Future of East Lansing without an income tax discussed by city, MSU
The City of East Lansing is pondering its future without the income tax the East Lansing City Council said would provide necessary revenue to the city.
The city needs at least $3 million of revenue, which will likely come from cuts to city services, Councilmember Erik Altmann said in a previous State News article.
Conversations with MSU to find ways to keep the city viable are possible, Mayor Mark Meadows said.
“We haven’t begun any talks with MSU with regard to anything after the vote took place,” Meadows said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t talk. I just don’t want you to think we’re ignoring it. We just haven’t had an opportunity to sit down and get there.”
The city and MSU will have quarterly meeting in December, where revenue will likely be discussed, Meadows said.
MSU wants East Lansing to be a “vibrant” community, but there are no ongoing negotiations, spokesperson Jason Cody said.
"Well as you know we negotiated with the city over the summer in good faith and that was a payment that our president had offered, pending board approval, that would be made in lieu of the city asking for an income tax,” Cody said. “Obviously there was no deal reached and the city went ahead and asked for the income tax. And those negotiations, I think, are over.”
But MSU is still interested in helping East Lansing in some way, Cody said.
“I know the mayor talks with our president from time to time,” Cody said. “I know that other members of the city government met with folks on our side. I’m sure the mayor knows how to get a hold of the people over here.”
Associated Students of Michigan State University President Lorenzo Santavicca said he has “close relations” with the university and the city, and the conversation has been “relatively positive.”
“We have a unique role that we have to work with both sides regardless of what happens here because we are students and we receive the benefits from both the city and the university,” Santavicca said.
ASMSU is trying to set up times to lobby the appropriate state committees to create better funding with the State of Michigan and East Lansing, Santavicca said.
“It’s my hope that in our leadership capacity, that we can work together with both the city and MSU in leadership of both areas, and our own leadership on students to organize a day to go testify in front of the appropriate committees for funding to better fund our city, specifically, and certainly those that deal with revenue sharing,” Santavicca said.
Either way, Santavicca said he thinks an open, honest dialogue is the key to all of this.
"I think it’s the first step. I think having a real conversation about how the income tax did not pass, does not mean that the financial woes are not real,” Santavicca said. “I think that the university needs to recognize that they are absolutely true and real and I think that they are doing that. I also think that the city needs to realize that blaming the university for covering their end of things with rising tuition is not the answer either.”
At the city council meeting on Nov. 21, the city’s future will be discussed in-depth, Meadows said in a previous State News article.