Comments on: Ann Arbor City Council Gets Budget Preview it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Ted Ancil Ted Ancil Mon, 27 Apr 2009 15:07:12 +0000 So the state has been in recession for years, the state and feds have cut funding to the city, the UM keeps grabbing property and 40% of the city is already off the tax roles and they picked up the leaves too early.

Well if they wait for all the leaves to fall then winter comes. Climate change anyone?

In my neighborhood this was exactly what happened, same the year before. The leaves finally fell but really late. Six inches of snow covered them then ice froze them to the ground. This city should go to bagging anyway and forget the pickup.

And the tree trimming? I wrote the city about that. They had to spend 3 years taking down ash trees and did not have the ability to do anything else. Now they are trying to catch up. Makes sense to me. They only had to deal with 10,000 trees.

Give-em-a-brake, this is the worst funding crisis for governments in 70 years and people are worried about their leaf pickup.

Street sweeping. They did that on our street already, it is actually kind of early this year. Many April’s still have snow coming down.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sun, 26 Apr 2009 20:23:41 +0000 I was challenged earlier to support my statement that our town is getting down-at-the-heel because of service cuts.

Here is an example. Our street trees are no longer being maintained at almost any level whatsoever. We used to have them pruned, removed, and replaced free of charge by an experienced and knowledgeable forestry department. The “urban forest” that is planted along lawn extensions is a recognized part of a city’s living infrastructure. What I have noticed lately on my street is that branches of street trees are dying, falling, and landowners are simply tossing them either into the street or along the extension. (It is costly or difficult to cut them up and dispose of them if you don’t have the right equipment.)

Also, the leaf pickup was so early last year that many people in my neighborhood were left with piles of leaves along their extensions. Some of these have fallen into the gutter and been carried to the storm drains, where they have clogged the drain openings. Not too long ago this would have been taken care of by the city spring street sweeping program. My neighbor called and was told that they do not have the personnel to perform this service now. Our streets have not been swept yet and the result is a ragged look, with clogged storm drains.

By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Sun, 19 Apr 2009 11:44:27 +0000 “In response to a query by Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Fraser discussed another area of cost-saving that has not yet yielded dramatic results: regional cooperation. Higgins asked about the overall strategy of collaboration with other government entities in light of some of the proposed cuts for 2011, which she described as “rather unpalatable.””

Higgins has been on council for ten years and now she brings up ‘regional cooperation’. Wow…thanks for going out on a political limb.

By: my two cents my two cents Thu, 16 Apr 2009 20:45:36 +0000 Oh please, don’t make this into a class thing. By your argument only rich people like art which is ridiculous. What I am referring to is the number of people that use or benefit from a particular project. Project grow does not service that many people, that is where my argument is.

The cinder block comment was in relation to the design of buildings not to your inference that without the art we would have these block buildings. The fact is that most people prefer a nice looking city: beautifully designed buildings, public art, nice parks, and historical buildings. The character of a city is based on these things.

Like I said before the art program is a tough call because many think of it is non-essential when it is actually needed in my opinion.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Thu, 16 Apr 2009 20:24:17 +0000 MTC, “We like to have things look nice”? This is quite a back-down from that principled stand on cutting inessentials you were taking earlier. Note, I wasn’t referencing the Dreiseitl art project but the general program. I was merely pointing out the inconsistencies in your “tough choices for tough times” argument. I haven’t even tried to lay out all the arguments for Project Grow (and there are many) but your reasoning in approving the one and disallowing the other is specious. How are you to judge what fraction of the (resident) population will benefit from each of these projects? And some sense of proportion is called for here – $7,000 (Project Grow) vs. millions for the art set-aside.

Your differentiation of the art program as being “development” rather than “services” and therefore somehow more defensible is revealing of your real priorities. Is your real meaning that Project Grow doesn’t benefit the right class of people?

BTW, I’m sure that the architects in the community will be startled to learn that without public art projects we will be putting up Soviet-style cinderblock buildings. Again, a false dichotomy.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Thu, 16 Apr 2009 19:02:05 +0000 Re: [23] Thanks, Vivienne, for forwarding a breakdown of Percent for Art funding for FY 08 and FY 09. I’ve uploaded them and provided links here.

FY 08 Percent for Art Funding

FY 09 Percent for Art Funding

By: my two cents my two cents Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:39:22 +0000 I actually did not intentionally imply to cut the pools or parks; I just listed them as possibilities without any hidden meaning.

The art question is a tough one because many do not see the value that public art brings to a city. In my opinion the 1% for art program is actually a part of development not community services. If how our city looked did not matter, then we would be putting up gray, square, cinder block buildings that are cheaper to build. We like to have things look nice. Public art beautifies the area for EVERYONE, even those who may think it is unnecessary.

In tough times public art projects may be delayed but should not be cancelled forever. Public art gives a city a large part of its character and impacts everyone who lives in and visits the city. Many other cities that have these programs have shown this. A small community service like project grow has minimal impact on the majority of residents and no impact on visitors.

As for the Dreiseitl art project, we can only install it now, it cannot be installed later. It will not only be beautiful but also will be educational. These things need to be considered along with the dollar expenditures on whether we should go forward with this project. At this time, the council has only decided to look at a proposal for this. However, if the money is not spent on this project, my understanding is that it cannot be moved into another area.

It is not as simple as saying “project Grow” or “public art”. In my eyes it is apple and oranges

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:09:28 +0000 Funny how the threatened cuts in these kinds of discussions are always popular things like pools and parks. Without access to a detailed budget proposal it is of course difficult to pinpoint a cut. Past decisions are indicative of mindset and procedure issues so are worthwhile recalling. I was just reviewing the action for my blog whereby the council bought the building that houses Tios. It was an item added to the agenda at the last minute and they authorized over $600,000 from the general fund to buy the building so that it can be torn down for parking spaces. I don’t think such hugely expensive decisions should be made on the spur of the moment without a real cost/benefit calculation. The cost in this case was more than the monetary cost to the city – it virtually wiped out a local business (though they may survive if able to make their move successfully).

If infrastructure is so important, why are we creaming off 1% of all capital projects for the “1% for Art” program? Money is even coming from water projects, in my opinion illegally. (They are paid for by user fees and are subject to the Bolt decision.) I can hear the howls now – of course art is important to our community. But if we are into making “hard choices” and eliminating “luxuries”, does that program justify itself in a time of contraction?

By: my two cents my two cents Thu, 16 Apr 2009 17:45:51 +0000 Vivienne, that is exactly where we differ. Including that I think some of the capital projects that you are opposed to are actually nondiscretionary (necessary) expenditures.

Leaving the police courts building out of the mix, what would you cut from the budget? Would you close another pool, a park? Things need to be cut for the future without harping on the past.

It is easy to blame everything on the PD/courts building, but this is a done deal whether some like it or not. Canceling that project does nothing to help our budget (we would still need to pay rent somewhere else for the courts. The rent we pay now will be used to pay for the bond payments). The city has saved some money to be used for infrastructure improvements. It would irresponsible to move that money over to pay for something non-tangible like project grow when one of the cities main responsibilities is infrastructure.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Thu, 16 Apr 2009 16:57:29 +0000 MTC, I guess where we differ is that I see the community gardens and band as “community standards”. (And that is not an exclusive list.) It has been too easy to cut those while maintaining many capital projects and administrative functions that are not mandated services, but rather discretionary expenditures. It would be very difficult to start such programs up again in good times if they are allowed to be terminated. Speaking of mandatory services, the cuts in police forces are starting to be noticeable, and I note that animal control is once again being cut. So we are not just talking about cutting “luxuries”.