Lansing Debates Over How to Spend Police Millage Funds
Mayor Virg Bernero proposed setting aside part of the police millage fund to renovate a city-owned building as the future police headquarters. Some are questioning how the city will pay for the entire renovation. Video by fox47news.comvideo
As part of his budget, Mayor Virg Bernero is proposing to move the police department into the city's own building (South Washington Office Complex), with the goal of eventually saving money on rent. To help with this transition, he's proposing to set aside about $200,000 from the police millage.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that in general it's better to own than to rent and we've been told for five years that we should make the move and end the leases at the north and south precincts," Mayor Bernero said.
However, some members of city council are resisting the proposal, saying they're concerned about how the city will pay for the renovations, which is estimated to be anywhere from $3 million to $16 million.
"That's a huge spread and that would make a huge difference in terms of how we're utilizing those millage dollars. Are they going to go to keep police or put more police out on the street or is it going to build a new building," said Council President Brian Jeffries.
According to Mayor Bernero, the city will need to borrow money to pay for the renovations, but in due time Lansing will save taxpayers about $500,000 per year on rent.
"Eventually when we stop those leases and we own the building, we will save money and that would put boots on the ground," said Mayor Bernero.
Council President Jeffries says they've received minimal details on the proposal.
"How much are we going to have to pay every year to pay off the bonding that would be required to pay for the building and in order to know what that is, we have to know what the actual cost of the building is and they can't tell us that," Jeffries said.
The cost will depend on the level of renovations, which is still to be determined. According to the mayor, the goal is to have a modest and functional building and save money in the long run.