Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Library, park top council’s priorities

Work session yields new direction on city’s ‘07 budget

May 25, 2006

A new home for Lansing Community Library and the first phase of Lansing Community Park have emerged as the City Council's top priorities for future capital improvements projects.

Council members met in a work session Thursday, May 18, to try to prioritize a number of projects on the city's plate in the coming year.

After some discussion, a consensus emerged to pare a City Hall/Community Library expansion to just the library as the top priority with the park work as the second priority. Phase one of the park would be to grade land the city has purchased near 155th Street and Gilman Road, put in temporary roads and parking, and seed areas for new soccer fields.

"Why don't we : proceed with the library and push the City Hall expansion down lower; proceed with a separate building for a library?" asked Council member Don Studnicka. "I'll go after parks; I'm with you all on that."

Studnicka agreed that City Hall was overcrowded but said the council could proceed with its expansion at a later date.

Council member David Trinkle Jr. asked which was more needed: expansion of City Hall or of the library.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said it depended on who was defining "need."

"The city needs expansion of City Hall," Bernard said. "The community probably would build the library."

Bernard told council members he and the city staff would go back and calculate how much money the city could put into the library and park in 2007 without raising the mill levy. Those numbers will be presented later this summer when council members work on the full 2007 city budget.

One member, Kenneth Ketchum, said he was willing to consider raising the mill levy to get more accomplished. A 4-mill increase in the levy, Ketchum was told, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $50 in taxes a year. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

"I would not object to raising the mill levy myself to do that City Hall-library combination," Ketchum said. "I think that's what we're up here to decide. If the voters don't like it, they won't re-elect us."

Kenneth Bernard

Kenneth Bernard

The library and park aren't the sole capital improvements for the city in 2007. Bernard began the session with a presentation in which he listed four projects the city already had committed to fund next year:

¢ Reconstruction of a portion of 147th Street in a joint city-county project, with the city's share costing $440,000.

¢ Reconstruction and curbing of Gamble Street, from Ida Street to the Carriage Hills Plaza shopping center, $222,000

¢ Construction of a bridge from West Mary Street to the terminus of South Bittersweet Road. The joint city-school district project coincides with the opening of the new Lansing Elementary School and has a total cost of $1.6 million.

The city will make payments totaling $187,000 in 2007 on those projects, or the equivalent of 2.72 mills in property taxes. In Lansing, 1 mill raises about $66,000 in taxes for the city.

The city has several other projects in the hopper, including those promised to city voters in 2005 when the county's 1 percent sales tax renewal was on the ballot: expansion of City Hall and the library; widening of De Soto Road from Eisenhower Road to Ida Street and from Ida Street to 4-H Road; construction of a Community Park; improvements to Gilman Road; economic development initiatives; and other infrastructure improvements.

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