Feb. 10 2011 12:00 AM

An informal survey shows support for tax increases to close Lansing’s $15 million budget gap

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero adamantly opposes tax increases as a means to fix the city’s $15 million budget gap. But if a sample of residents is any indication, he is out of touch with the electorate.

The administration won’t recommend a budget to the City Council until next month, so we hit the streets to ask 18 people how they would fix the budget. We broadly asked if they supported tax increases, cuts to services or a combination of the two. The results: Tax increases may not be so bad.

Of the 18 surveyed, 11 support a combination of tax increases and cuts to services; five wanted services cut and no increases to taxes; and two supported only tax increases.

We interviewed citizens from each ward and with varying age, educational and employment backgrounds. We made no attempts at being scientific. Only eight are included due to space limitations.

— Andy Balaskovitz

Interviews and photos by City Pulse interns Yang Zhang and Fiona Guo


Perry Black

Age: 57

Address: 1611 Autumn Lane

Ward: 1

Income: $50,000

Occupation: Facilities manager

Education: College degree

Black supports across-the-board cuts to services from each department.

Liza Archer 


Age: 36

Address: 2920 Mersey Lane

Ward: 3

Income: $25,000-$50,000

Occupation: Data match specialist for a financial institution

Education: High school diploma; attended some college classes

Archer supports income tax increases with no cuts to city services. “They have been cutting services — we don’t pay that much in taxes.”


William McSweeney

Age: 27

Address: 2208 Forest Road

Ward: 2

Income: $25,000-$50,000

Occupation: Manager of a financial institute

Education: College degree

McSweeney favors income tax increases over cuts to services: “It won’t cost too much to fix the problem. We have already cut a lot services,” he said.


Sylvia Alexander

Age: 58

Address: Unavailable

Ward: 3

Income: $85,000

Occupation: Retired state employee

Education: College degree

Alexander prefers a combination of tax increases and cuts to services — specifically an increase in income taxes and cuts to mental health services. However, she “definitely” does not want to see cuts to the Police Department.


Lola Martin

Age: 73

Address: 120 East Reasoner St.

Ward: 4

Income: $15,000

Occupation: Retired

Education: High school diploma

Martin supports cuts to mental health services and said the Fire Department could be scaled down. ““They overspend — they have to fix it,” she said.


Dean Gillo

Age: 21

Address: 3204 Andrew Ave.

Ward: 4

Income: $15,000-$20,000

Occupation: Kroger employee

Education: High school diploma; some college

Gillo supports a combination of income tax increases and across-the-board cuts to services.


Stephanie Carlisle

Age: 27

Address: 1511 Pattengill Ave.

Ward: 4

Income: $29,000

Occupation: Legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives

Education: College degree

Carlisle supports “all cuts, no tax increases,” specifically to mental health and public services. She said police and fire shouldn’t be cut at all.


Aldina Sajtovic

Age: Unavailable

Address: Unavailable

Ward: 3

Income: Less than $25,000

Occupation: Caregiver

Education: College degree

Sajtovic supports hikes in property taxes and also cuts to police services.