Can Council Pull the Income Tax Question Off the Ballot?

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Monday, August 14, 2017, 8:48 pm
Alice Dreger

Readers have been asking us whether East Lansing’s City Council could still pull the income tax question (with the associated property tax reduction question) off the November 7 ballot.

Might Council do this, for example, if Council reaches a deal with MSU of the sort being discussed as we reported yesterday? Or might Council do this if convinced by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce to withdraw the tax proposal, as the Lansing State Journal has reported the Chamber is requesting?

We asked City Clerk Marie Wicks (shown above) for the answer.

Too late to change the language: According to Wicks, today (August 15) is the deadline for certifying ballot language. So, it is too late for City Council to change the language that has already been certified. Council would have to have held a meeting to change what it decided on June 20 about the ballot language. That didn’t happen.

The question could still be pulled entirely: But Council could still make a decision to pull the question entirely off the ballot. Wicks said she checked with the Bureau of Election, and there is some precedent for this. To do this, Council would have to act soon.

That’s because ballots for people in the military and overseas have to be available by September 23. “Nothing can change on the ballot after that date,” Wicks says, and the printers would need at least a week before that to get new ballots printed. (She estimates that doing a new set of ballots would cost the City about $4,000 at this point.)

So, Wicks says, if Council wants to remove the issue entirely from the ballot, it would have to do so by about the second week of September. If Council didn’t take the vote to do this at a regularly-scheduled meeting, Council would have to take the action at a special meeting, which according to the Open Meetings Act would have to be announced at least 18 hours before it takes place.


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