New Extension report examines fiscal conditions in Lansing-East Lansing Metro region

Region is compared to four similar regions in U.S. using a series of benchmarks. Results indicate high spending on public safety, low spending on infrastructure and significant fiscal challenges for Lansing.

Since the beginning of the so-called “Great Recession” in 2008, local governments in Michigan have experienced unprecedented fiscal stress. Given these conditions, it is critical to examine where different regions of the state stand in regard to efforts to save money via measures such as cooperation and consolidation of services.

Michigan State University Extension has released a new report that examines the strength of the Lansing-East Lansing metro area by comparing it to similar cities within and outside the region using a series of different metrics.

The Lansing-East Lansing Metropolitan Area Fiscal Scorecard assesses where the region stands in terms of government spending and revenues relative to peer regions Des Moines, Iowa, Grand Rapids, Mich. Canton-Massillon, Ohio, and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah.

The 22-page fiscal scorecard compares the metropolitan areas, of which there are almost 80 local governments that each spend nearly $500 million, to these peer regions in terms of aggregate spending, aggregate revenues and a host of subcategories such as spending in public safety, public works, parks and recreation, and transportation. 

The findings indicate that the Lansing-East Lansing metro region is about average as a whole, but has higher spending in public safety and lower spending on average in public infrastructure and parks and recreation.  This may indicate areas of concentration for further investigation as the region may wish to assess these outlier categories for investment for efficiency improvements. 

A second, in-depth look was taken to the city of Lansing.  This investigation found that the city of Lansing has higher costs than its peer cities and faces significant fiscal challenges and pressures. Further steps need to be examined and taken for the city to restore fiscal balance both in the short and long term.


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