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Thanks for checking out the City of East Lansing's latest Dialog E-Newsletter. Help spread the word! Friends and neighbors can get bi-weekly City news and event information in their inbox by subscribing at www.cityofeastlansing.com/eNews

Help Downtown East Lansing Businesses Survive and THRIVE this Summer
We want downtown East Lansing businesses to survive and THRIVE during the summer months of Center City District construction and are urging our supportive community to patronize these local businesses.
 
The East Lansing Department of Planning, Building & Development, along with the East Lansing Downtown Management Board (comprised of local business owners), have been working hard to make downtown East Lansing as accessible as possible during the construction, while also providing incentives to the community to encourage continued support of their favorite restaurants and retailers.
 
The popular East Lansing Summer Concert Series is in full swing right now, which features free Friday night concerts from 7-9 p.m. in Ann Street Plaza (corner of Albert and M.A.C. avenues) through Aug. 31. In conjunction with the Friday, Aug. 10 concert, which will feature the Kalamazoo-based Celtic band The Founding, there will be a Shop & Dine event featuring “tastes” of menu items and sales at a variety of participating downtown businesses. Participants of the tasting tour will need to purchase an all-access wristband (price TBD), which will be sold from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in Ann Street Plaza. More information, including a list of participating businesses, will be announced soon at DowntownEL.com
The Find the Bee, Park for Free for the day incentive continues, following a successful Find The Bee, Eat for Free promotion in which winners were awarded $100 gift cards to be used at several restaurants in downtown East Lansing. Additionally, several businesses adjacent to the Center City District project offer free parking vouchers, so make sure to redeem them when shopping and dining. Stay tuned for more parking and social media promotions to follow and get updates on construction via EastLansingBuzz.org.
 
While the Center City District project construction has made visible changes downtown, 94 percent of the City's parking remains accessible to visitors. The Albert Avenue Lot affected by construction had 143 spaces. Prior to the construction, downtown East Lansing had a total of 2,749 spaces, leaving 2,606 spaces that are still available throughout this construction phase. Check out the new Downtown East Lansing Parking Brochure (PDF) for more details on where to park.  
 
When the project is completed, the updated downtown area is expected to attract new businesses and increase community patronage of all businesses. Target is slated to open in spring 2019, along with some customer parking becoming available in the new parking garage at that time. The full project, which also includes apartments and senior housing, is expected to be completed in late summer 2019.
 
Manager's Message: East Lansing Income Tax Ballot Proposal
By: East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas
Through outreach and open engagement with the community, I’ve had the opportunity to field many questions about the City’s financial challenges and the 2017 and 2018 income tax proposals. I’ve hosted more than 25 public presentations, which says a lot about our community and our citizens’ willingness to understand the City’s financial challenges and the facts about the previous and current proposal. Many of the same thoughtful questions and concerns have come up, and I’d like to take the time to address some of them here.

1. Why is the income tax back on the ballot? This community has taken the time to understand the City’s financial challenges and provide us with feedback. According to a series of community surveys conducted, a solution of both cuts to services and new revenue has been the most supported approach to the challenges we are facing. The surveys also indicated more support for a time-limited and earmarked income tax than an increase in property taxes. With that community feedback in mind, the East Lansing City Council decided to place a new income tax proposal on the August 7, 2018 ballot that is time-limited to 12 years and will be dedicated for public safety, infrastructure improvements and supplemental payments for unfunded pension liabilities. Residents would pay a 1% tax and non-residents would pay a 0.5% tax. Retirement income would not be taxable.

2. Will property taxes be reduced if this newest proposal passes? Yes. If this new income tax proposal passes, the City Charter amendment approved by voters in November 2017 would go into effect, reducing City property taxes from a maximum of 20 mills to a maximum of 13 mills in any year in which the income tax is levied. Given that the current operating millage is 17.5679 mills, City Council plans to reduce property taxes by a flat 5 mills down to 12.5679 mills.

3. Why is the City obligated to pay for employee pensions? The Michigan Constitution states that if an entity provides a pension, it cannot be diminished and there is a contractual obligation to properly fund it. I also believe we have an ethical obligation to fulfill these benefits.

4. Why didn’t the City just accept the lump sum of money from MSU when it was offered? In 2017, former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and the City Council did, in fact, reach a tentative agreement: MSU would provide $20 million over eight years and, in turn, the 2017 income tax proposal would be taken off the ballot. Simon took this tentative agreement to the MSU Board of Trustees and it was voted down 4-4. In early 2018, I formally asked if MSU would increase its funding support for the fire and EMS services we provide on campus and that request was also formally denied.

5. What is the status of the East Lansing Hannah Community Center? Our goal is to not close this facility. Earlier this year, Council asked for recommendations for approximately $3 million in service cuts. With some of the biggest pieces of the general fund pie being public safety and City-run facilities like the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, those services did appear on the list of suggested cuts. These are not cuts we want to make; they are cuts we will have to make if we don’t raise additional revenue. An income tax would help us avoid these cuts.

6. Why can’t the City just make more cuts? We’ve been making cuts for the past 15 years, reducing staff consistently and working toward efficiencies in all departments. At this point, further cuts will result in very tangible changes in City services for residents. The cut solution could be an option and we could strive to make our government smaller by deeply cutting public services and amenities, but we also think it’s important to maintain East Lansing as a place people want to live.

An income tax would help us to maintain core services, make necessary supplemental pension payments and reinvest in City infrastructure and public safety. You can find more information about the ballot proposal at cityofeastlansing.com/incometax. You can also check out my presentation on the City's financial challenges on YouTube
Residential Parking Permit Renewal
Community members with residential parking permits set to expire on Aug. 31 can visit the East Lansing Finance Department anytime this month to have them renewed. The Finance Department is located inside East Lansing City Hall, 410 Abbot Road. 

Parking on residential streets is permitted during specific times in designated neighborhoods and/or subdivisions, including Bailey, College Grove, Central and Red Cedar. Residents living within a neighborhood area with a parking permit program can receive a designated number of free resident and guest permits by request. Proof of residency is required. Rules and regulations vary for each neighborhood. Community members with questions can call (517) 319-6860. 
Absentee Voter Ballot Information for August 7, 2018 Election
Absentee voter (AV) ballots for the August 7, 2018 Election are currently available to be voted in person or by mail. An AV ballot application can be found online or can be requested by visiting or calling the East Lansing City Clerk's office, 410 Abbot Road or (517) 319-6914.
 
In addition to regular hours (Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), the East Lansing City Clerk’s office will have special hours on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. to issue and receive AV ballots. The last day to have an an AV ballot mailed is Saturday, Aug. 4 and the last day a voter can apply for an AV ballot and have it issued in person is Monday, Aug. 6 by 4 p.m. More information can be found here

ELPD Open House

Community members are reminded that the East Lansing Police Department, 409 Park Lane, will be hosting its second Open House for community members on Thursday, July 26 from 5-8 p.m. Swing by to meet the officers who help keep the East Lansing community safe and participate in a number of fun activities! All ages welcome! Learn more

Summer Splash at the Aquatic Center

Communtiy members are invited to the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center's (ELFAC) 2018 Summer Splash on Wednesday, July 25 from 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. This fun, annual event features everything from a belly flop contest to children's games, a balloon toss, a biggest splash contest, relay races, a sidewalk art contest and more! Learn more about ELFAC, 6400 Abbot Road, at www.cityofeastlansing.com/
AquaticCenter
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Submit Questions for Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The 2018 One Book, One Community kick-off event will be taking place on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. at the East Lansing High School Theater, 509 Burcham Drive. The event will feature a moderated Q&A with Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court of the United States. If you have a question for her, please submit it online by July 31 at onebookeastlansing.com/questions

Copyright © 2018 City of East Lansing, All rights reserved.


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