Thursday, July 2, 2020

Editorial: City finance should be on students' radars

Growing government deficits are often talked about at the federal level, but we are seeing it close to home. The city of East Lansing’s deficit continues to grow, and our community must be aware of the consequences.

Acting East Lansing Financial Director Jill Feldpausch told The State News without change, East Lansing finances could be basically “depleted in three years.”

Much of our daily lives are provided by city services, from downtown development to public safety. A local government in the red means the East Lansing community, including Spartans, could see changes, loss of services and rising costs in the coming years.

We can all expect small prices to go up. Parking prices and tickets might rise, something most do not want to see. Councilmember Erik Altmann even said special event parking prices could double within the next year to make up for the cost of city services used by visitors. Tensions between students and Parking and Code Enforcement are already high, as defensive end Demetrius Cooper allegedly spat at a P.A.C.E. officer after an altercation. Raising these prices might not help.

A citywide income tax could also be implemented to help the city. Though no one likes to be taxed, to raise funds and help fix the city’s budget, workers in the city might face this measure. Even if they do not care about rising parking costs, student workers will take note of a smaller paycheck.

Even less noticeable services can be affected. The Sidewalk Program, responsible for making East Lansing a walkable and bikeable community, is 2.39 percent of the city’s budget. If costs are cut or the financial problem is ignored, perhaps future Spartans will be biking along cracked, bumpy roads.

But the costs on the community are not limited to things like parking and taxes. Consider what else the city does: trash collection, parks and recreation, restaurant and bar licensing, property taxes on rental houses often used by students and more. Local government affects much of our daily lives. A financially weak government will not be beneficial to a vibrant community for East Lansing residents and MSU students.

Future Spartans will bear the results of whatever East Lansing does in the upcoming months and years. If no major changes occur, the class of 2021 will arrive to a different city than the one we know currently. Our community needs to remain aware and understanding of the situation to ensure the community improves, not deteriorates, for future generations. 

The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-chief Jake Allen, Managing Editor Cameron Macko, Campus Editor Rachel Fradette, City Editor Stephen Olschanski, Sports Editor Souichi Terada, Features Editor McKenna Ross, Copy Chief Casey Holland, Staff Representative Marie Weidmayer and Diversity Representative Madison O’Connor.

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