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East Lansing City Council Meeting Recap 11/16/21

** Thanks for reading!
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Thanks for checking out the East Lansing City Council Recap. This publication is sent out after each regular, discussion-only and special City Council meeting. Plan for future meetings by viewing the 2021 meeting schedule here: https://cityofeastlansing.com/997/2021-Meeting-Dates (https://cityofeastlansing.com/997/2020-Meeting-Dates) .

Readers are encouraged to contact the East Lansing City Manager's Office with questions: (517) 319-6920


** Highlights from the Nov. 16 Meeting
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The East Lansing City Council met this past Tuesday, Nov. 16 at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center for its November discussion-only meeting.

During communications at the start of the meeting, Councilmember Dana Watson encouraged residents to be careful while driving to avoid a vehicle-deer collision. She also encouraged residents to visit the City's website for tips on how to deter deer from entering their yards as well as gardening tips. Residents can learn more about deer management at www.cityofeastlansing.com/deer (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/231/Deer-Management) .

Councilmember Lisa Babcock took time during her report to remind residents that the East Lansing Department of Public Works is extending fall bulk leaf collection on the City's west side (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1583) (homes west of Abbot Road), with a fourth week of collection scheduled for the week of Nov. 22. Community members can learn more about fall bulk leaf collection at www.cityofeastlansing.com/yardwaste. (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/yardwaste) An extension announcement for the east side is expected this Friday. Also during her report, Councilmember Babcock expressed that she would like to hear from the community about how the City should allocate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

During the mayor's report, Mayor Ron Bacon requested that City Manager George Lahanas provide information on the East Lansing Emerging Leaders Program. Lahanas referred to East Lansing Planning, Building and Development Director Tom Fehrenbach, who is responsible for running the program. Fehrenbach explained that applications are currently being accepted for the 2022 East Lansing Emerging Leaders Program. Applications are available at www.cityofeastlansing.com/emergingleaders and must be submitted by Monday, Dec. 6 for consideration. All applicants must be residents of the City of East Lansing (either homeowner or renter) and must be 18 years of age or older. Participants will meet monthly, from January through November, and will learn about various aspects of City government.


** Discussion of the City's Sewer Infrastructure
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This past Tuesday's discussion-only meeting began with a presentation by Nicole McPherson, acting director of the East Lansing Department of Public Works, on the City's sewer infrastructure and how it operates. Community members can watch McPherson's presentation here. (https://youtu.be/zXnM-v-S3gk?t=1400)

McPherson will be providing a more in-depth presentation on the City's sewer infrastructure during a webinar on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. Residents can learn more about the webinar, including how to tune in and participate, at https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1575.


** Discussion of Third Party Review of the Thursday, Aug. 12 Rain Event
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Following McPherson's presentation, Council discussed a proposal for a third party review of the rain event that occurred on Thursday, Aug. 12 in East Lansing.

McPherson explained that, per Council's request, the City requested a proposal from Tetra Tech to evaluate the rain event and how it impacted the Glencairn Neighborhood and the City as a whole. The proposal identifies Tetra Tech's approach to evaluating the rain event, which includes interviewing staff members and residents. She also noted that Tetra Tech is not the designer or contractor for the East Glencairn Neighborhood Improvement Project.

City Manager Lahanas also explained why the City requested a proposal from Tetra Tech. "Tetra Tech has the original model of the City's combined sewer area and they were the ones who prepared all of our studies, so they have all the data and modeling to hopefully save a lot of time and effort when coming up with this report," said City Manager Lahanas.

Following some discussion, it was requested that the proposal be placed on the Nov. 23 consent agenda for consideration. If a Councilmember wishes to discuss the proposal further at that meeting, they can make a motion to move the item to the business agenda. View the agenda item report for the discussion on the third party review of the Thursday, Aug. 12 rain event. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/66164/Discussion%20of%20the%20proposal%20for%20the%20third%20party%20.pdf?handle=548FD221FC06401991601876BA69DE99)


** Discussion of Council Liaison Assignments for Boards and Commissions
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Next, Council discussed who would be assigned to each of the City’s boards, commissions and various other committees and organizational boards. Community members can view the finalized spreadsheet of board and commission liaison appointments here (PDF). (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/DocumentCenter/View/4500/Board-and-Commission-Liaison-Appointments-PDF?bidId=)



** Discussion of City Attorney Proposals and Next Steps
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Council discussed the Request for Proposals (RFP) for city attorney services and next steps. The City released the RFP in August 2021 and received proposals from the following law firms: Thrun Law Firm; Clark Hill, PLC; Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, PC; Miller Johnson; and The Law Offices of Casey D. Conklin, PLC. Community members can view the proposals in the agenda item report. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/66145/Discussion%20of%20City%20Attorney%20proposals%20and%20next%20.pdf?handle=4939F1070DDF4D1FB143A7EDB073184E)

During discussion, Council reiterated that they would like the candidates to separate their proposals into sections, giving the law firms the opportunity to put a bid in for general attorney services or court prosecution services, or both. Additionally, this will give Council the opportunity to consider the proposals for each service separately. Then, Council may either select different firms to provide each service or select one firm to provide both services.

City Manager Lahanas explained that he will contact the candidates and other interested law firms and request that they separate their proposals into the two sections. He also noted that he will request that the proposals be submitted by mid-December and hopes to bring the proposals back to Council before the holidays. Council will then set dates to conduct the interviews, which will take place during a public meeting.


** Discussion of ARPA Funds
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Council discussed the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for a sewer check valve system program.

Council previously discussed ARPA funds during its Oct. 12 meeting, where City Manager Lahanas explained that ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill and, within ARPA, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund is providing $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes and territories.

The City of East Lansing was allocated close to $12.2 million through this fund, which can be used for response to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to others; premium pay for eligible workers; provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic; and/or necessary improvements in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

During this past Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Lahanas presented a prioritized list of proposed City projects that could be funded with ARPA funds. This includes repairs and renovations at the East Lansing Public Library, East Lansing Fire Station #1, East Lansing Hannah Community Center, the City's parking system and more.

Another proposed expenditure for the ARPA funding is the implementation of a sewer check valve system program for residents. This proposed expenditure is one that City staff is seeking to expedite in order to potentially make the program available to residents prior to next spring. City Manager Lahanas explained that the check valve is the piece on the homeowner's property that prevents sewage from backing up into a basement. Staff is planning to come back to Council in December with the proposed sewer check valve system program for Council's approval and will be recommending that Council allocate $500,000 in ARPA funds to fund the program.

City Manager Lahanas also noted that the City plans to gather feedback from East Lansing residents on how the ARPA funds should be allocated prior to the draft plan being finalized. Community members can expect a survey to be released by the end of this week or early next week. View the agenda item report for the discussion on ARPA funds, which includes the draft ARPA plan. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/66125/Discussion%20of%20American%20Rescue%20Plan%20Act%20(ARPA)%20f.pdf?handle=DBA43862BA354A948154F1EAC1BC9B2B)


** Discussion of Strategic Priorities, Priority Based Budgeting and Budget Process
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This past Tuesday's meeting concluded with a presentation from City Manager Lahanas on the City's Strategic Priorities, Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) and budget process.

Lahanas provided an overview of each topic and a timeline of when Council will discuss each topic:
* Strategic Priorities
+ Established every two years at the beginning of the Council term.
+ Strategic priorities represent overall work to improve the community and organization.
+ Strategic priorities generally cover new approaches, projects or services and are not the typical day-to-day work of the City.
+ Jan. 18: Discussion-only meeting to review and establish strategic priorities.
+ Feb. 15: Discussion-only meeting to continue discussion, as needed.
+ Approve at subsequent regular meeting.

* Fiscal Year 2023 Budget
+ Staff begin budget preparation in December.
+ Must be adopted by Council on or before May 24, 2022.
+ Feb. 15: Discussion-only meeting and presentation of five-year forecast.
+ April 5: Budget and fee schedule delivered to Council.
+ April 5-May 17: Budget work sessions with Council.
+ May 24: Budget approved by Council.

* PBB
+ PBB breaks services and activities into programs that reflect the full costs of the activity.
+ PBB is a management and communication tool that shows how resources align with goals.
+ PBB will be used as part of the City's budget presentations, including a more in-depth department by department review of the general fund.

Community members can view Lahanas' presentation and most recent strategic priorities tracking document in the agenda item report. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/66137/Discussion%20of%20Strategic%20Priorities,%20Priority%20Ba.pdf?handle=5891EA4ECFD945668DCCC8670EB334C0) The PBB portal with the FY 2021 data (soon to be updated with FY 2022 data) can be found at https://openpbbdata.net/EastLansing/.
Next Meeting: Tuesday, Nov. 23


** PLEASE NOTE:
In-Person Public Meetings Resumed in August 2021
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The City of East Lansing has transitioned back to in-person public meetings and East Lansing City Council meetings have been temporarily relocated to the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road. Masks are required at the in-person meetings. Please note that all regularly scheduled Council meetings take place at 7 p.m. A remote option for public comment is continuing to be offered for City Council and Planning Commission meetings. Learn more (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1520) .

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