Ask ELi: Taxes, Sewers, Social Workers, Parking Tickets

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Dylan Lees for ELi

An East Lansing sewer manhole cover.

Why is the City of East Lansing conducting tax assessments that include the interiors of homes?

A reader posed this question after receiving a letter from the Tax Assessor’s Office about an upcoming inspection. ELi reached out to the City of East Lansing and David Lee, the City’s Tax Assessor, was able to provide us with some information via email.

According to Lee, conditions inside the home can affect the parcel’s worth.

“Conducting interior inspections helps to improve the fairness and accuracy of property assessments,” Lee said.

“If, for instance, a property owner has finished their basement without pulling a building permit, the Assessing Department would have no knowledge of that improvement,” Lee explained. “Or, if a dwelling’s interior has not been well maintained or has suffered damage, an interior inspection can help assessing staff properly adjust the parcel’s valuation to reflect the dwelling’s condition.”

Lee also reminds property owners that they have the right to decline interior and/or exterior inspections. Property reinspections will only occur in parts of the City that have not yet been reinspected as part of the City’s 2011 reinspection program, according to Lee.

Why is the new sewer installed in Glencairn area still combined? Why not separate sewer and storm water since they were/are doing all that work?

In November 2021, Interim Director of the Department of Public Works, Nicole McPherson, provided East Lansing’s City Council with an overview of the City’s sewer system. McPherson said then that 912 acres – mostly in the Glencairn, Oakwood, and Bailey Neighborhoods – feed into combined sewers, where waste water and storm water flow together. 

The area serviced by combined sewer lines accounts for 16% of the area served by the sewer system. Other areas are serviced by separated sewers, where storm water and waste water flow separately. 

Now, as the City replaces sewers in the Glencairn Neighborhood, it is not separating storm and waste water flows.

McPherson responded to ELi over email, stating that, “The sewers upstream and downstream of this area are combined sewers. This means if a section of sewer were separated into sanitary and storm, they would still connect to the same combined sewer on the downstream side.”

“The separation of the combined sewers was studied in 1993 and the decision at that time was to install the 10-foot tunnel and Retention Treatment Basin to handle the flows from the combined sewer area,” she said.

Is the East Lansing Police Department expanding the number of social workers on its staff?

A reader sent us this question after seeing a job posting for a social worker with ELPD.

We reached out to Lieutenant Chad Pride, ELPD’s public information officer, who said, “Our hiring process for social workers is for the 2 positions we are currently budgeted for. Both social workers that we had on staff resigned for other opportunities.”

Do you have unpaid parking tickets?

That’s not a reader question. It’s our question to you because we wanted to let our readers know that 54B District Court in East Lansing is holding a Parking Fee Reduction Program throughout the month of May.

If you have unpaid parking tickets issued by the City of East Lansing or Michigan State University, you can now pay them at a reduced rate of 50 percent.

“Community members who are interested in participating in the program must contact the Court to process payment,” according to the press release. “Payments that are made without contacting the Court will not be considered to participate in the program.”

Payments can be made in person at 101 Linden St. between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling Court’s Parking Division at (517) 351-7022.

“The Parking Fee Reduction Program gives vehicle owners an incentive to satisfy their obligations to the Court,” said East Lansing 54B District Court Chief Judge Richard Ball in the press release.

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