LANSING | The Village Board on Tuesday approved a $9.16 million property tax levy for next year, which is the same as last year's.
That led Village President Norm Abbott to call it a "zero percent increase" for the new year, adding he hopes other governmental units follow the board's lead.
Village Administrator J. Wynsma said there are legitimate reasons Lansing government could use the money if it were to seek more funds from its share of the property tax bills that local homeowners pay.
“We could use this revenue, there are lots of projects we could put it to,” Wynsma said. “But I think it is commendable for the (village) board to take this step.”
For his part, Abbott said the village’s refusal to increase its levy means that if local homeowners do get hit with property tax hikes, it will be because of other government units in Lansing such as the school districts or the Lan-Oak Park District.
“We held the line on our spending, and I’d like to see the other taxing bodies try to do the same,” Abbott said.
Although following Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, Abbott admitted he was unaware of any local entity that was planning a significant tax hike.
In fact, the Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 School Board has already adopted its tax levy calling for an increase of just over 1 percent following two years of no increases while the Lansing Public Library district has approved its levy without an increase for the second straight year.
“We’re doing our best to keep our spending down,” said library Executive Director Deborah Albrecht.
Abbott said he thinks village finances are improving because the board has been willing to maintain its spending in recent years. That followed a period where finances declined.
He noted that when he was elected village president in 2009, the Moody’s Investors Service dropped Lansing government’s bond rating to a “B,” which raises the interest rates the village has to pay when borrowing money.
Abbott said he hopes that rating can be raised back to an “A” some time in 2013, which he said is the difference between paying 3 percent to 4 percent interest, as opposed to 6 percent to 7 percent interest.
“That can be $1 million more in interest payments,” Abbott said, adding, “We could come out of this in better financial shape than the village has ever been.”