Ped Task Force Funding Item: To Be Pulled?

Now expected to be withdrawn is a resolution currently on the Ann Arbor city council’s April 7, 2014 agenda that would allocate funding for the work of a pedestrian safety and access task force. At the first meeting of the task force, held on Friday, April 4, Ward 1 councilmember Sabra Briere, speaking from the audience, told the group that it was her intent to withdraw the funding resolution when the council meets on April 7.

Action to postpone the pedestrian task force funding resolution until April 7 came at the council’s March 3, 2014 meeting.

Withdrawing the resolution at the April 7 meeting would not mean that the task force will be prevented from doing its work. Here’s why. In the resolution that’s expected to be withdrawn, the total amount proposed to be appropriated for the task force project budget is $197,250. That amount includes an “estimated $122,500” as the approximate cost of the anticipated city staff effort for the project. The total project budget includes $77,400 for a professional services agreement with Project Innovations Inc.

So the portion of the project budget that requires hard costs to be covered – other than city staff time – is the cost for the consultant to provide facilitation services. And according to a staff memo to the city administrator written after council action to postpone, the bulk of the cost can already be covered in an existing budget allocation. From the March 27, 2014 staff memo to the city administrator: “The estimated amount for the facilitation work is $70,000 to $90,000. Of this amount, $75,000 is currently budgeted for pedestrian safety and sidewalk-gap planning. The remaining $15,000 will be included in the City Administrator’s recommended FY 14 budget amendment.”

In addition to authorizing the funding, the resolution would authorize a $77,400 contract with Project Innovations for the facilitation work. But now, it’s not clear that particular consultant will be selected for the work. Originally Project Innovations had been identified by staff as a contractor uniquely qualified to do the facilitation work. Project Innovations is familiar to city staff as the facilitator for a sanitary sewer wet weather evaluation study the city is currently conducting. But now the city has decided to issue an RFP (requests for proposals) for the facilitation work. [.pdf of RFP No. 893] Responses to the RFP are due by April 22, 2014.

At the April 4 task force meeting, Connie Pulcipher – a systems planner with the city of Ann Arbor – told members of the task force that they could be involved in the process of interviewing respondents to the RFP.

The pedestrian safety and access task force was established through a council resolution passed on Nov. 18, 2013. Confirmed as members of the task force on Jan. 21, 2014 were: Vivienne Armentrout, Neal Elyakin, Linda Diane Feldt, Jim Rees, Anthony Pinnell, Sarah Pressprich Gryniewicz, Kenneth Clark, Scott Campbell, and Owen Jansson.

All members attended the first meeting on April 4. At that meeting, task force members decided that they would elect a chair and secretary from among its members. They left until their next meeting the decision about who would serve in those roles. The delay in selecting a facilitator means that the original timeline for the group’s work, which included a final report by February 2015, has shifted to around August 2015.

For a preview of other agenda items see: “April 7, 2014: Council Meeting Preview