FY 2015 Budget Amendments Preview

The main item on the Ann Arbor city council’s May 19, 2014 agenda is the adoption of the budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2014.

Under the city charter, the council needs to adopt the budget, with any amendments, on a seven-vote majority. If the council is not able to achieve a seven-vote majority on an amended budget, then under the city charter, the city administrator’s proposed FY 2015 budget will be adopted by default.

To alert the public to potential budget amendments that could be debated on Monday night, here’s a tentative list of possible proposals, with provisional councilmember sponsors in parens:

  • Police staffing. One proposal would increase the number of sworn police officers by five officers instead of an increase of three proposed by the city administrator. Funding would come in part from a reduction in the 15th District Court budget. (Jane Lumm, Jack Eaton, Sumi Kailasapathy) An alternative proposal would increase the number of sworn officers by two officers instead of three, with the savings allocated to human services for the purpose of drug treatment and prevention. (Chuck Warpehoski)
  • Forestry staffing.  The proposal would add a city forester position. The funding for the initial year would come from eliminating a proposed corridor study planned for Ellsworth Road. (Eaton)
  • Compost/leaf program. One proposal would restore loose leaf collection in the fall and holiday tree pickup in the winter. This would require roughly $406,000 in capital investment and $319,500 in recurring expenses from the millage-supported solid waste fund. (Lumm, Eaton, Kailasapathy) A different proposal would extend the curbside compostables pickup from seasonal to year-round so that food waste could be kept out of the garbage stream year-round, at an increased annual cost of $300,000. (Sabra Briere)
  • LDFA, Ann Arbor SPARK. One proposal would eliminate some increases in the budget of the local development finance authority (LDFA) – of $30,000 in incubator operating expense, $20,000 in direct staffing expense, and a $75,000 increase to Ann Arbor SPARK’s marketing plan. Those funds would instead be reserved for “future infrastructure improvements.” (Kailasapathy, Eaton) A separate proposal would eliminate the city general fund allocation of $75,000 to Ann Arbor SPARK and put that money toward human services instead. (Kailasapathy, Eaton)
  • Animal control. The proposal would eliminate funding for an inventory of commercial signs in favor of animal control for the Human Society of Huron Valley and for deer herd management costs. (Sally Petersen, Kailasapathy, Eaton)
  • Art administration, traffic calming efforts. The proposal is to reduce the amount allocated in the recommended budget for transitional costs associated with the public art program from $80,000 to $40,000. The $40,000 in savings would be used for traffic calming projects in neighborhoods, including but not limited to speed bumps. (Eaton, Kailasapathy)
  • 415 W. Washington demolition. One proposal would use about half of the $300,000 in the general fund budget that’s designated for demolition of the city-owned 415 W. Washington property to fund the pedestrian safety and access task force. (Briere, Warpehoski) A separate proposal would simply eliminate general fund support for demolition of the city-owned buildings at 415 W. Washington. (Kailasapathy, Lumm, Eaton)
  • Community-facing climate action programs. Money for “community-facing” climate action programs would come in part from $50,000 allocated for the Ellsworth Road corridor study. (Christopher Taylor, Margie Teall, John Hieftje, Warpehoski)
  • Warming center. This proposal would allocate $100,000 from the affordable housing trust fund to provide assistance for a warming center. (Lumm, Briere)
  • Streets. A proposal about alternative transportation would, for this year, bump the Act 51 allocation for alternative transportation from 2.5% to 5% – which translates to $180,000. The amendment would ask the city administrator to provide information that would help the council determine the appropriate percentage to allocate to alternative transportation. (Briere) A separate resolution would not alter the budget but would ask the city administrator to “study alternatives to increase street funding and present to Council by Sept. 30, 2014 a report outlining options, their financial impact, and the pros and cons of each.” (Lumm, Eaton, Kailasapathy)

In addition to these budget amendments, it’s possible that a resolution will be put forward by Jane Lumm (Ward 2) directing the city administrator to develop a revised retirement plan design for new hires that “includes a defined contribution element and results in lower costs to the city.” The new plan design would be presented to the council by Dec. 31, 2014, with the intent that the revised plan would be applied to all employees hired after Dec. 31, 2015.

The Chronicle will provide some additional background and detail on these budget amendments in a future article.

In addition to these proposals, it’s also possible that councilmembers could bring forward other amendments during the May 19 meeting. And based on past practice, not every amendment that’s been prepared will necessarily be put forward at the meeting.