March 13 2013 12:00 AM

Bernero brings back jobs from Italy

Monday, Nov. 26 — After taking some heat last week from a few Lansing City Council members for going to Italy and not telling them about it, Mayor Virg Bernero announced tonight that an Italian “green energy” manufacturer plans to invest $9 million in the city, bringing with it 80 new jobs.

Bernero did not disclose the name of the company when breaking the news during tonight’s Council meeting. He said a formal announcement would come before Christmas. He also suggested that new investment may result from the merger of Chrysler and Fiat, but did not offer details.

“These are the kinds of relationships we must nurture,” he said.

In other news, Bernero and the Council played politics because there wasn’t a Committee of the Whole meeting tonight to discuss the refinancing of several city bonds that Bernero recommended last week. Bernero said the city could save up to $4 million over the life of the bonds by finding a better interest rate on them.

“Delaying action on this critically important matter is your prerogative of Council. I want to make clear: I don’t agree with it. You incur risk on behalf of the taxpayers,” he said.

Jeffries and Councilwoman Carol Wood responded that the issue was rushed through the Council staff at the last minute.

“For us to get this just last week, turn around and hold a special meeting I think is irresponsible on behalf of the mayor,” Wood said.

Jeffries assured Bernero that the resolution would be taken up at a Committee of the Whole meeting next week and that Council will act on the refinancing before it recesses for the holiday. He said due to the “enormity” of the issue that it’s “simply unreasonable” to expect the Council to act on the resolutions in a week.

“I don’t think it was some Herculean task,” Bernero responded. “The quicker we can get out there and take advantage of low interest rates, the better.”