Comments on: DDA Budgets for Transit, Housing, Parking it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 18 Mar 2014 18:24:01 +0000 With regard to the design of the Fourth and William parking structure, I hope that DDA members are alert to two uses of the structure that have been mentioned as possibilities.

One is the relocation of the Greyhound bus terminal to the Blake Transit Center. In Michael Ford’s report to the AAATA board, it is mentioned that the ticket office for Greyhound might be attached to the Fourth and William structure across from the Blake.

Another is the proposed restaurant adjacent to the structure on Fourth. The site plan proposal indicates that the operators hope to use the structure for valet parking, which might require a few physical alterations as well.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:33:05 +0000 RE: [2]:

For a listing of current and past appointees to the downtown area citizens advisory commission see Legistar: [link]

To find minutes that are logged in Legistar, go to the “Legislation” tab, select “minutes” category of records, select “all years” and type in “downtown area” into the search field. Legistar doesn’t appear to have a way to save that query result as a link but here’s a screenshot: [link]

As far as legal obligations for minutes, the DDA Act of 1975 highlights a record of meetings as a requirement: “(2) A record of the meetings of a development area citizens council, including information and data presented, shall be maintained by the council.”

Michigan’s Open Meetings Act requires public bodies to maintain minutes – but the downtown area citizens advisory council is arguably not a “public body” under the OMA, as it is purely advisory in nature.

Obviously it’s just axiomatic that entities like the downtown area citizens advisory council should get their record keeping right. But I also think it’s worth reflecting on other substantive statutory requirements for the downtown citizens advisory council: (1) membership; and (2) function.

Here’s a sketch. A statutory requirement on membership is residence within the DDA district. But in 2005 the city council revised the bylaws of Ann Arbor’s DACAC so that a non-resident of the DDA district could be a member under a very specific scenario that appears to have applied uniquely to Ray Detter: “… if they move to a new residence on a block bisected by the DDA boundary line or a block abutting the DDA boundary line.” So Detter appears to meet the bylaw criterion, but not the statutory criterion. It’s not reasonable to counter by claiming that Ann Arbor’s CAC is not the entity to which the statute refers – because that would mean that Ann Arbor’s DACAC was effectively dissolved in 2005 as a result of the bylaws change. But if the DACAC was dissolved in 2005 then the statutory process for dissolution was not followed – which includes “… petition of not less than 20% of the adult resident population of the development area … ”

Somewhat more substantial than either record keeping or membership requirements is the answer to this question: What is the DACAC supposed to do under the DDA Act of 1975? It’s clear from its name that it’s supposed to advise – but on what topics specifically? From the statute: “A development area citizens council established pursuant to this act shall act an advisory body to the authority and the governing body in the adoption of the development or tax increment financing plans.”

If the DACAC is supposed to advise on the topic of the “development plan” then it’s fair to ask: What is a “development plan”? The statute lays out exactly what elements are supposed to be included in the development plan. Among them are:

(c) A description of existing improvements in the development area to be demolished, repaired, or altered, a description of any repairs and alterations, and an estimate of the time required for completion.
(d) The location, extent, character, and estimated cost of the improvements including rehabilitation contemplated for the development area and an estimate of the time required for completion.
(e) A statement of the construction or stages of construction planned, and the estimated time of completion of each stage.

When I look at the DDA’s 2003 tax increment financing (TIF) plan (of which the development plan is a required component part), I can’t identify elements (c), (d) or (e). What’s the big deal? The statute indicates that a DDA “shall expend the tax increment revenues received for the development program only pursuant to the tax increment financing plan.”

So as I read the statute, when a DDA makes an expenditure of TIF revenue, that expenditure should be traceable to an item in the development plan that gives a description of the improvement to be constructed, the estimated cost of that improvement and the estimated time for completing that project. [Those are included in (c), (d) and (e) above.]

When I compare the statute to the Ann Arbor DDA’s TIF plan, I wonder how it’s possible to justify any expenditures of TIF revenue based on the Ann Arbor DDA’s TIF plan.

I think it would be worth the effort for the Ann Arbor DDA to revise its TIF plan to incorporate specific projects with specific cost estimates and specific time estimates. Now, altering the TIF plan would trigger noticing requirements to the other taxing jurisdictions but would not, I don’t believe, offer the opportunity for them to opt out of tax capture. So it would be a big deal and a lot of work but would not entail much risk. Once those projects are locked into the TIF plan, that would be exhaustive of the ways TIF funds could be expended – unless and until the TIF plan were altered again.

In sum, the statute doesn’t contemplate the kind of nimble organization that some Ann Arbor DDA board members would prefer it to be. As indicated in the joint council DDA board committee meetings last fall, DDA board members would prefer to manage the DDA as an organization that has the flexibility to react to emergent situations. For my part, I think reacting to emergent situations is a basic governmental function, not a DDA function.

So while the DACAC’s record keeping is important to get right, it’s also important for the DACAC to get its function right. And by getting the DACAC’s function right, the DDA would wind up with a TIF plan that has a specific set of projects, with cost estimates and timelines. That would provide a clearer answer to the question: What exactly does the DDA do?

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Fri, 07 Mar 2014 03:53:57 +0000 Just curious – is the CAC obligated in any way to maintain meeting minutes? It’s great that Mr. Detter gives these reports to the DDA board, but last I heard there were only a few members of the CAC that were actually active and whose terms had not long-since expired. Who makes up the current CAC, and do they have a quorum at their meetings?

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Fri, 07 Mar 2014 00:32:36 +0000 “’Down the road we may – we are undoubtedly going to have to start looking at some at least inflationary increases in parking rates to cover our costs,’ he said.”

I think it’s more likely that they’ll be facing deflation and the subsequent economic impacts and a need to increase rates in order to service debts. Doing so would be a challenge in that it could further drive down demand. I don’t know what to suggest other than to increase rates immediately in order to take advantage of the high demand while it lasts.