March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Finalizing dispensary regulations and plugging a budget hole

Friday, July 8 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to put the finishing touches on its medical marijuana dispensary ordinance and balance the previous fiscal year budget at its meeting Monday.

The final dispensary regulations, which require a flat $1,000 fee and $75 for each background check for applications and cap the number of allowed businesses in the city at 48, were voted out of the Public Safety Committee Thursday.

City Attorney Brig Smith said during Thursday’s meeting he thought the fee is “conservative and fair.”

“This is constant with the other types of licensing that we do,” he said, adding that includes costs for building safety and zoning inspection.

In other business, the Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution to plug a $1 million shortfall in the 2011 fiscal year that ended June 30. The shortfall is due to increased health insurance costs, Fire Department overtime and less-than-expected revenues in the Building Safety and Golf funds.

The $1 million will come from the Budget Stabilization Fund. More than $50,000 will be used to cover the costs of the May 3 millage election, which failed 52 percent to 48 percent.

The use of reserves marks a trend by the Bernero administration. The city’s reserves are split between the General Fund and the Budget Stabilization Fund. Together, those reserves have dropped $5 million over the past two fiscal years.

Reserves were at $12.96 million in fiscal year 2009. In the adopted 2010 budget, reserves were at $10.8 million. In this year’s adopted budget, reserves were at $7.93 million. Reserves over that time were taken from the General Fund. The Budget Stabilization Fund remained unchanged at $5,728,059 over the period.

This budget amendment takes 12.6 percent of the city’s reserve funds.

Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Hannan told City Pulse last month — as the administration announced the shortfall — that the continued use of reserves is not planned for but is on the radar: “Absolutely it’s a concern. Piece by piece it’s been whittled away,” he said.