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Thanks for checking out the East Lansing City Council Recap. This publication is sent out after each regular and discussion-only City Council meeting. Plan for future meetings by viewing the 2019 meeting schedule here: https://cityofeastlansing.com/997/2019-Meeting-Dates

Readers are encouraged to contact the East Lansing City Manager's Office with questions: (517) 319-6920

Highlights from the April 9 Meeting

The East Lansing City Council began their meeting on April 9, 2019 with communications from the Councilmembers and East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann announced that Campbell's Market Basket, 547 E. Grand River Ave., opened in downtown East Lansing. "This is a business that we all hope will thrive," said Mayor Pro Tem Altmann. City Council also praised the East Lansing Police Department and assisting agencies for their work following the Michigan State University men's NCAA Final Four basketball game on Saturday, April 6. "I have a lot of gratitude to the people who serve, both from our City and elsewhere, who came to help," said Councilmember Shanna Draheim. 

Lahanas' report included asking Council to reschedule all future discussion-only meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Lahanas explained that with the approval of the Advance Video Professionals, Inc. contract, discussion-only meetings will now be televised and the crew needs more time to set up their equipment. Council unanimously approved a motion to reschedule all future discussion-only meetings to 7 p.m. This means that next week's discussion-only meeting on Tuesday, April 16 will begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised. 

Council also heard a special presentation from the Downtown Management Board (DMB) interns, Mia Rubin and McKenna Dixon, who provided an update on the downtown marketing and outreach program during construction. Since construction began last year, the DMB has continued to support downtown businesses by sending weekly construction updates, hosting business huddles and more. They also talked about the success of the DMB's marketing and advertisement efforts, such as printing and distributing more than 10,000 copies of the 2019 Downtown Visitor's Guide and the hanging of more than 30 banners and signs in the downtown, letting shoppers know that businesses are still open during construction and guiding them to available public parking. Social media campaigns have also been successful. So far, more than 51,000 EL Buzz parking vouchers have been used by downtown businesses.
 

Building Height Overlay District

Council approved in a vote of 3-2 (Councilmembers Aaron Stephens and Shanna Draheim voting against) Ordinance 1449 - an ordinance to create an overlay district for building height to a portion of the downtown. This ordinance allows a building within this overlay district to be constructed to a maximum height of 160 feet (previously 140 feet). This overlay district will only apply to properties bounded by: Albert and Grand River avenues, Bailey Street and Abbot Road. A building site plan will still need to be approved by a three-fourths majority of Council and be deemed to be of significant public benefit before a building could be constructed to a height of up to 160 feet in this overlay district. 
 

New On-Street Parking Regulations

Council unanimously approved the implementation of a pilot program that will regulate on-street parking based on street width in the Bailey Neighborhood and prohibit parking on streets with a curb and gutter less than 24 feet wide. The purpose of the pilot program is to improve access of emergency vehicles and to improve traffic flow and City services, such as plowing and recycling collection. With the approval of the pilot program, two traffic control orders (TCO) will be implemented:

TCO No. 478: No parking - Prohibited parking on public streets with curb and gutter, with a width less than 24 feet, with application City-wide. View map

TCO No. 479: One-sided parking - Limited parking to one side of a public street with a street width of  24-31 feet. within the pilot area. The pilot area for one-sided parking restrictions is in a portion of the Bailey Neighborhood, bounded by the following streets: Burcham, Charles, Elizabeth, Bailey, Ann and Gunson. View map

Director of Public Works and Environmental Services Scott House explained to Council that new signs will be flagged with orange flags to alert residents of the change and coordination will be made with Parking and Code Enforcement to provide a period of adjustment to educate residents about the revised parking restrictions. Residents can expect the new on-street parking regulations to go into effect after MSU graduation. 
 

Modified Site Plan for Graduate Hotel

In a vote of 4-1 (Mayor Pro Tem Altmann voting against), Council approved a modified site plan from Soloman Cordwell Buenz for the Graduate Hotel property located at 120 W. Grand River Ave.  The original site plan approved by Council on August 14, 2018 showed the first floor with a hotel lobby, back of house and retail. The approved, modified site plan eliminates the first floor retail use entirely and replaces it with a hotel back of house, lobby and fitness center. Council also added a condition to the approval of the modified site plan that a café service be provided in the hotel. Additionally, the courtyard area will be converted to mostly landscaping with a pathway, seating and murals where retail windows would have been. View the staff memo here. 
 

Fiscal Year 2020 Community Development Block Grant Budget

Council held the first of three public hearings for the Fiscal Year 2020 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) budget. Community Development and Engagement Manager Amy Schlusler-Schmitt reported to Council that staff is suggesting funding of activities this year primarily in areas of public infrastructure. Staff estimates the budget to be approximately $465,000, per Congressional approval. A second public hearing will be held on April 23 and a third public hearing will be held May 7. Schlusler-Schmitt shared that she sent correspondence to all current CDBG recipients, notifying them of the process of applying for funds and dates of the public hearings. 

Other Items

To view all items discussed during the meeting, view the Agenda Packet

City Council Begins Review of Preliminary Fiscal Year 2020 Budget

East Lansing City Council’s review of the Preliminary Fiscal Year 2020 Budget began last night at the first in a series of budget work sessions that will be taking place over the months of April and early May. East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas and East Lansing Finance Director Jill Feldpausch presented an overview of the budget, including details about the General Fund and the new Income Tax Fund.

FY 2020 is an important year for the City, as it is the first year that income tax revenue has been included in the City’s budget. The proposed budget assumes $9 million in generated revenue from the income tax, which is estimated based on the payments from January to March of this year as well as an income tax study completed by Plante Moran in October 2016. Unknowns at this point include how much net revenue will be collected over the course of the first full year and how much of that revenue will be refunded next April. The proposed budget also includes the 5 mill reduction in property taxes for East Lansing property owners, which reduces the City’s operating millage from 17.5362 in FY 2019 to 12.5362 in FY 2020. This is expected to result in a $5.1 million reduction in property tax revenues collected for the City’s general fund.

The allocation of the income tax has already allowed the City to make progress in terms of public safety staffing and additional funding will be directed on an annual basis to areas of high need – specifically, public safety (20 percent), infrastructure (20 percent) and employee legacy costs (60 percent). In addition to the income tax revenues that will be used for an estimated $2,085,000 supplemental pension payment, the Preliminary FY 2020 Budget for the General Fund includes a proposed $2 million supplemental pension payment on top of the City’s Annual Required Contribution. These extra payments, combined with the $6,560,000 of supplemental pension payments made to date since 2016, have and will help improve the overall funding of the pension plan, thus creating a more financially sustainable future for the City.

The FY 2020 budget for the City, as a whole, is approximately $145 million, a decrease of $1.5 million from FY 2019’s amended budget. Council has set a public hearing on the budget and tax rate for May 7, with budget adoption scheduled for May 21. Community members can visit the Fiscal Year 2020 Preliminary Budget Preparation webpage for additional information, including all key dates for the budget review and adoption, the preliminary budget document and the long-term financial forecast for the City.
 
Next Meeting: Tuesday, April 16 Discussion-Only

Additional Information

Regular meetings and discussion-only meetings begin at 7 p.m. Meetings take place at 54B District Court, Courtroom 2, 101. Linden St. Meeting agendas, minutes and recordings can be found here. Recorded meetings are also televised and replayed on Channel 22 (WELG).

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