At a time when the city of Lansing is laying off police officers and contemplating raising taxes, it is losing about $400,000 a year on city-owned golf facilities. Lansing lost $431,073 in fiscal 2007-08 and another $398,452 in fiscal 2008-09 on its golf facilities, according to Angela Bennett, the city’s deputy finance director. The city also had to cover another $431,073 from golf facility deficits from prior years, Bennett wrote in an email.

The city budgets for 18-hole and 9-hole golf courses and a driving range/learning center. The city covered these expenses by taking money from its general fund and parks millage.

“No city can maintain money-losing golf courses and legitimately cry poverty,” said Michael LaFaive, the director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an email. “Government golf is the least necessary of public services. It frequently drains taxpayer resources and hurts private golf course owners. Why on earth does anyone believe that recreation should be a function of any government?”

There have been news reports of the possibility of another millage increase in Lansing. And the city sent layoff notices this summer to 44 police officers.

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The State of Michigan claims the tens of millions of dollars it spends each year advertising the tourism industry brings in needed tax dollars, but the industry fails to show the data. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy devised a study and found that for every dollar spent, only two cents comes back to the state, and only to a select segment of the tourism industry.

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