Council Capsule: May 19, 2015

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:00 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Image: At City Council last night, the City’s lifeguard team was recognized for receiving a safety award. Shown from left to right: Jim Jennings, Cait Prentice, Kevin Sweitzer, David Dalen, Andy Dobias, Dee Careathers, Annika Schaetzl, Emma Henry, Director of Parks & Rec Tim McCaffrey, Director of Planning Tim Dempsey.

Watch Council for yourself: You can watch last night’s City Council meeting for yourself by clicking on this link. The agenda has hotlinks in it that will take you directly to whatever section of the meeting you want to watch.

Present at Council: Mayor Nathan Triplett, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, Councilmembers Ruth Beier, Kathy Boyle, and Susan Woods.

Lively TIF debate: The great majority of last night’s meeting was spent discussing Tax Increment Financing (TIF), particularly as it relates to the Gateway Project at 300 West Grand River. We have a separate report on that. (This discussion was scattered throughout the published agenda, so if you want to see all of the discussion, you will need to watch almost all of the meeting, starting with public comments.)

Lifeguards recognized with award: Tim McCaffrey, Director of Parks & Rec, presented the City’s lifeguard team to Council in order to formally recognize their receipt of the Jeff Ellis & Associates’ 2014 Platinum International Aquatic Safety Award. This award is based on unannounced safety audits conducted four times per year by Jeff Ellis & Associates at lifeguard-protected facilities. Lifeguards are judged based on professionalism, protection of the environment, and other aspects of their jobs. McCaffrey said that fewer than 10% of facilities are awarded this level of recognition.

Budget for 2015-2016 approved: City Council voted unanimously to pass the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Budget, Tax Rate, and Fee Schedule Resolution; see it here. The matter was presented by Finance Director Mary Haskell, who was thanked by many present for her work.

Ruth Beier noted that there are fee increases in the budget that are made necessary by the City’s infrastructure needs. She also said that the budget as shown indicates revenues and expenditures, but what it doesn’t show is “the taxes we give away in TIF” (Tax Increment Financing). She said that tax revenue on commercial projects is a direct way to raise revenues that can then be spent on infrastructure and other projects.

Nathan Triplett said that modest growth in revenues has occurred because of rebounding of property values, which means property owners pay more in taxes, and because of more money from the state. He noted fee increases in water and sewer that are necessary to help pay for “system renewal in our community and significant reinvestment” in the wastewater treatment plant. He said that the failure of State Proposal 1 meant less money for fixing roads but said the City is planning to do what it can anyway in Chesterfield Hills this construction season. He expected more discussion of the rebuild of Chesterfield Hills’ roads next week at Council.

Communications from the public: You can read written communications to Council for this week here. Audience communications were on the TIF issue and so appear in our special report on the TIF debate.

Communications from Councilmembers, City Manager, and the City Attorney: Ruth Beier, Kathy Boyle, and Diane Goddeeris talked about Brownfield and TIF, so these comments are covered in our special report. Nathan Triplett thanked people who worked to make the Art Festival a success. Tim Dempsey sat in the chair of City Manager for the absent George Lahanas and had no report. The City Attorney also had no report.

Consent agenda: The following items were passed on a “consent agenda,” which means they were approved without further discussion:

  • Approval of a resolution proclaiming June 7, 2015 National Cancer Survivors Day; read the resolution
  • Approval of a request to close the following streets and parking lots, use amplified sound and regulate vendors within the festival site for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, June 19-21, 2015; read about the request.
  • Approval of lane closures as defined in the attached memo and authorization for the Department of Public Works to apply for a Michigan Department of Transportation permit to close lanes under their jurisdiction in the City of East Lansing for the 2015 Capital City River Run on Sunday, September 20, 2015; read the staff memo.
  • Approval of a resolution recognizing Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center as a non-profit organization located in the City of East Lansing for the purpose of obtaining a charitable gaming license from the Michigan Lottery Bureau; read Small Talk’s letter of request.
  • Approval of a request by the Communications Department to utilize public spaces, use amplified sound and regulate vendors for the 2015 Community Events Program; read the staff memo.

 

Executive session: The City Attorney asked for and was granted a closed-door session after the open meeting to discuss confidential legal issues facing the City. The nature of the concern was not revealed.

 

Reminder: You can communicate with Council in person at its weekly meetings or write to Council directly at council@cityofeastlansing.com. You can speak or write on any issue involving the City, not only what is on the published agenda.

UPDATE, May 20, 2015, 7:30 am: The caption for the photo was updated with the names of the lifeguard team; we are grateful to Tim McCaffrey for assistance with this.

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