Comments on: Budget Round 4: Lights, Streets, Grass it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: mr dairy mr dairy Sun, 14 Mar 2010 22:46:51 +0000 Local taxpayers suffer because the UM refuses to be part of the solution and contribute to the costs of operating a city, the one in which they live.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Sun, 14 Mar 2010 19:22:20 +0000 The “Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area” for the unemployment rate is all of Washtenaw County. If that is 9%, then my guess is that the rate for Ann Arbor City is around 6%.

By: Tom Brandt Tom Brandt Sun, 14 Mar 2010 17:30:29 +0000 I can’t see how Ann Arbor suffers economically from the presence of the U. Ann Arbor has the lowest unemployment rate in Michigan at 9%. The state’s rate is 14.3%, the national average is 9.7%. This is due almost entirely to the U and the cluster of businesses that are here because the U is here. I can’t lay my hands on housing stats, but I know talking to friends and relatives in the Detroit area that property values in Ann Arbor have not declined at nearly the rate of those in the Detroit area. It seems to me that Ann Arbor has a net benefit from being the home of the U of M.

Without the U, Ann Arbor would be just another small village in Washtenaw County.

By: mr dairy mr dairy Sun, 14 Mar 2010 14:42:08 +0000 The taxes we pay to the State of Mi, help pay for the UM police force. We pay for four police departments here, City County, State and the UM, but are only served by three of them. The UM should pay for ALL security and traffic control costs associated with events on their property.

The burdens that the UM places on Ann Arbor, should be shared by all taxpayers,statewide. Yes, Ann Arbor received the benefits of the UM being here, but we also suffer from it’s dominance on our social, cultural, political and economic landscape. The entire State of Michigan benefits from the UM’s national and international status, but Ann Arbor is the one that pays the cost of being a gracious host.

By: Pete Pete Sun, 14 Mar 2010 02:39:13 +0000 If I hold an event that requires a traffic cop, don’t I have to find an off-duty cop and PAY HIM MYSELF? I know I have to pay if I want to have part of the public streets available for my own private use… how about we let the U pay for traffic control AND to rent our streets (since they are effectively unavailable to residents anyway). If they don’t want to rent our streets, spectators can park on the edge of town and pay our buses $2/per for a ride in.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Sat, 13 Mar 2010 22:29:05 +0000 Re: [10] and the question about the interpretation of “An active city council that is constantly asking the city attorney’s office for analysis and feedback on various ordinance revisions causes more work for the city attorney’s office.”

The statement is generic — it’s about any active, constantly-active city council and the work it causes, as compared to the work caused by a relatively inactive one. It leaves the question open of whether the current city council is relatively active or not. To evaluate how “active” this council is with respect to burden on the city attorney’s office, one could look back to see what the numbers look like in previous consultant studies for previous councils. As I read the 2006 study, it’s a $73,143 figure, as compared to the $204,000 in the 2008 study. But that difference is not wholly due to the behavior of individual councilmembers, I wouldn’t think. Some of it, I’m thinking, has to do with the fact different issues arise during different periods.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Sat, 13 Mar 2010 21:33:43 +0000 “the signals could, in fact, be controlled from a remote location by one person, but that tactic would not give the needed ability to change the signals based on the needs of the dynamically changing situation.”

Web cam?

I’m pleased to see staff looking at overtime, a cost that Ryan Stanton reported [link] to be $2.76 million for the upcoming FY. That’s more than half the anticipated shortfall that remains unaddressed.

Overtime payments are the greatest cost for the last incremental amount of service delivered. Seems like it would be the first place to make reductions, rather than looking at eliminating all of a service or selling a property. I suspect that in many cases we could all live without that last bit of service or wait a little longer for it to be delivered.

Council could establish policy (i.e., pass a resolution) to that effect, directing the administrator to make all possible arrangements to eliminate overtime. I understand that contracts might not make that possible in all cases, but creative approaches (like the proposed shifting of the work week for some employees) might get at a majority of it.

Ditto Steve Kunselman on the unsustainability of hauling compostables around. That’s an opportunity for collaboration with the local food community — logs and wood chips for mushroom substrate, leaf mulch for building soil, etc.

What accounts for the increase in the “Mayor & Council” cost increase in the Solid Waste Fund? Less important, I wonder what accounts for the “Environmental Coordinator” cost in the Water Fund in 2008 or, alternatively, the elimination of it in 2010?

“An active city council that is constantly asking the city attorney’s office for analysis and feedback on various ordinance revisions causes more work for the city attorney’s office.”

Is that “causes”, Dave, as in that’s the case with the current council, or “would cause”, as in the case of a hypothetically hyperactive (i.e., “constantly asking”) council?

This example raises the question of the quantity of service provided by the attorney’s office. Is it limited or is it provided as needed/requested? Has council stated their preference? Have they set priorities for what gets sent for review?

By: Leslie Morris Leslie Morris Sat, 13 Mar 2010 18:28:18 +0000 I wish we could have a detailed voter survey as suggested by Dave Askins and Vivienne Armentrout, to give the city government more information about what Ann Arbor citizens want from their government.

Then I wish we could have a process such as that described by Vivienne, with unbiased information available well ahead of an election, and with adequate time for a citizens’ support group to campaign for new revenue to protect their most valued city services and programs. This would require firm promises from the administration to stop cutting those most valued programs and services, and to restore programs already cut.

I think in that case there would be a chance for either a Headlee override or an income tax issue to pass. The WISD enhancement millage passed in Ann Arbor.

I could support either revenue measure, given guarantees as suggested above. I am not an anti-government person. Unfortunately, I think the Cahill or the Morris predictions are more likely.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Sat, 13 Mar 2010 17:34:09 +0000 Sabra’s respondents came largely from those who read and followed the link to her survey. Nearly 800 folks responded. This number is far larger than the number of people who typically enter comments. I expect that number is around 50. It is true that many of these commenters are anti-government.

But the nearly 800 people who took the survey represent a far broader cross-section of the community. Therefore, I don’t see an anti-government bias in this larger group.

The self-selected sample on this survey is roughly in the same ballpark as the number of people who typically vote in’s insta-polls. These insta-polls accurately predicted the decisive defeat of the WISD millage last year.

So there is good reason to believe that Sabra’s survey has substantial predictive value.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sat, 13 Mar 2010 14:53:01 +0000 I wish that someone from ISR would weigh in on this. In my opinion, a self-selected voluntary survey such as CM Briere conducted does not yield much more solid information than a summary of the comments on It can be suggestive but there are so many flaws in its use as a real test of the general population’s opinion that making predictions on that basis is baseless. I think we know that it depends on how the question is asked and even what the preceding questions are. Also, what choices you are asking the individual to make. Thanks to Dave Askins for bringing in the methods used for the county transportation survey.

Here is a thought experiment. Suppose that the income tax is actually on the ballot. The city would put out an official description of how it would work (without bias to the result, we would hope). An anti-tax group would start campaigning against it. And a citizen’s group who hoped to have more cash for certain programs (it could be anything from social programs to quality of life questions like the conduct of the park system to general services) also conducts a campaign. Voters across the city would start discussing it with friends and co-workers. Points raised by the opposing sides would be debated. And many people might, if asked, not know how they were going to vote until the day of the election. What side would then prevail would be based on a much more complex calculation than a simple yes or no on an informal poll.