March 18 2013 12:00 AM

425 agreements and millage support up for a vote

Friday, Oct. 21 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to vote on a pair of tax sharing agreements with DeWitt Township Monday, paving the way for what city and township officials have said could be a catalyst for business development near the Capital Region Regional Airport.

The agreements involve roughly 1,800 acres of land around the airport. The two jurisdictions would split tax revenues from the land, as some businesses would be charged Lansing’s millage rate and others would be charged under DeWitt Township’s lower rate.

The state’s Public Act 425 of 1984 allows local governments “to conditionally transfer property by written agreement for the purpose of economic development projects,” the resolution says. Approval of the agreements will allow for the city and township to apply for a “Next Michigan Development” zone, which is also known as an “aerotropolis.”

Existing businesses that would be transferred from the township into the city limits would be subject to the city’s personal and corporate income tax rates, which is 1 percent for corporations, 1 percent for city residents and .5 percent for non-city residents. Two business owners expressed opposition at a public hearing Monday night because it would be a tax increase for them. Lansing Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Bob Trezise called it “an issue of tax fairness.”

In other business, the Council is scheduled to vote on approving a resolution Monday expressing support for the millage increase proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot. It says the Council “fully and enthusiastically supports passage of the millage proposal which supports funds for the police, fire and roads.” It also states that “the new revenues generated from the millage should be used to supplement not supplant the current funding levels for police and fire.”

At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries requested the last clause. Jeffries has said that if the millage increase is approved, he wants new revenue to be in addition to what’s budgeted for police and fire, and not moving original funds to other areas of the overall budget.

“Hopefully it will create a level of confidence in our voting public,” he said at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

City Attorney Brig Smith, who was OK with adding the clause from a legal standpoint at Monday’s meeting, said the Council has to be careful of what the resolution says in terms of not binding future Councils to spend money a certain way. “Quite clearly we have to be careful what we put in the ballot resolution,” he said.

In other business, the Council will hold a public hearing Monday night on the proposed sale of Comfort Station, 313 E. Grand River Ave., in Old Town for $60,000. The buyer is 313 East Grand River, LLC, which is a for-profit entity established by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. As a result, the property will generate property tax revenue for the city.

Plaques on the building devoted to Fredith Taylor and Thelma Joyce Osteen also will stay in place, according to the development agreement: “Plaques in the name of Fredith Taylor and Thelma Joyce Osteen are displayed on the front of the building, and said plaques are considered historically significant to the building and community. … Buyer agrees to maintain and preserve the plaques … in substantially the same manner that they currently exist on the property, and agrees to retain the name of the building as the 'Thelma Joyce Osteen Comfort Station.'”