Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s May 19, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. The intent is to facilitate easier navigation from the live updates section to background material already in this file.
Results on the outcome on many individual agenda items can be found published as separate briefs in the Civic News Ticker section of the website. A summary of the FY 2015 budget deliberations will be available here, when its is published: [link]
The council’s second meeting in May is specified in the city charter as the occasion for the council to adopt the city administrator’s proposed budget with any amendments. If the council does not take action by its second meeting in May, the city administrator’s proposed budget is adopted by default. The Chronicle has previously reported a preview of some possible budget amendments: [here].
The council’s May 19 meeting agenda includes more than just the adoption of the budget.
Related to the setting of the annual budget are items like setting fees associated with the public services area (for example, site plan review) and the community services area (for example, farmers market stall fees), as well as rate increases for water, sewer and stormwater utilities.
Also related to the budget – and not just for this next year – is an agenda item that will revise the city’s policies for contributions to the city’s pension system and retiree health care. In broad strokes, those revisions are meant to accelerate contributions during a strong economy and maintain contributions at least at the level of the actuary-recommended amount during weaker economies.
Another budget-related item on the May 19 agenda is one related to the social infrastructure of the community – allocation of general fund money to nonprofits that provide human services. The city approaches this allocation through a process that is coordinated with Washtenaw County, the United Way, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and other partners. The total amount allocated for the operation of programs is about $4.3 million. The city of Ann Arbor’s general fund contribution is about $1.2 million, which is the same amount that has been contributed for the last several years.
Related to human services support is an agenda item that would accept a $113,154 planning grant from the Michigan Supreme Court to establish a specialized mental health court.
Along with social infrastructure, the council will also be asked to approve an allocation that includes utilities infrastructure, to address the needs that resulted from the harsh winter. The resolution that the council will consider would allocate money from the fund balance reserves from three sources: $1.7 million from the major street fund, $638,000 from the local street fund, and $666,000 from the water fund. Those amounts include $461,171 from the state of Michigan.
The council will also be asked to approve money for building new physical infrastructure – about $2.6 million for the reconstruction of a segment of Pontiac Trail. The segment stretches north of Skydale Drive to just south of the bridge over M-14/US-23. The street reconstruction project also includes water mains, sanitary sewer, and construction of new sidewalk along the east side of Pontiac Trail, and installation of bike lanes.
Special assessments to pay for three other sidewalk projects also appear on the council’s agenda in various stages of the special assessment process. Those future projects are located on Barton Drive, Scio Church Road, and Newport Road.
The council will be asked to approve the city’s application for federal funding to support the acquisition of development rights in Superior Township for two pieces of property on either side of Vreeland Road. The properties are near other parcels already protected as part of the city’s greenbelt initiative.
The city council will also vote on the confirmation of two appointments: Katherine Hollins to the city’s environmental commission; and Bob White, as a reappointment to his fourth term on the city’s historic district commission.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Monday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article below the preview material. Click here to skip the preview section and go directly to the live updates. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Fees and Rates
On the council’s agenda are rate increases for utilities (water, sewer and stormwater) as well as fee increases for the public services and community services area.
Fees and Rates: Water, Sewer, Stormwater
Water rates are proposed to increase across all tiers of consumption. For the first 7 “units” of water, the charge is proposed to increase from $1.35 to $1.40. For the next 21 units, the charge is proposed to increase from $2.85 to $2.96 per unit. And for the 17 units after that, the increase is proposed to be from $4.88 to $5.08. A unit is 100 cubic feet, which is 748 gallons.
Sewer rates would increase from $3.65 to $3.85 per unit. And stormwater fees would increase for all tiers of impervious service. For the middle tier – for more than 2,187 square feet but less than or equal to 4,175 square feet – on a quarterly basis, the increase would be from $24.85 to $26.32.
According to the staff memo accompanying this item, the recommended rate changes in water, sewer, and stormwater would increase revenues to the water, sewer, and stormwater funds by $765,119, $1,171,931 and $410,235 respectively. The reason given for the rate increases is to cover maintenance and debt payments, and to maintain funding for capital improvement requirements. The city calculates the impact to be an additional $6.25 per quarter or $24.98 per year for an average consumer, which is a net increase of 4.2%.
Water consumption for a typical single family is assumed at 19 units per quarter.
The utility rates are part of a city ordinance. So the council will be considering initial approval at its May 19 meeting, with final approval to come at its first meeting in June – on June 2.
Fees and Rates: Community and Public Services Area
Fee increases in the community services area and the public services area will be considered by the council at its May 19 meeting.
For community services, increases are being proposed for stall fees at the Ann Arbor public market (farmers market). Currently, the basic annual fee for rental of a stall is $300. It’s proposed to be increased to $450 – a 50% increase.
If approved by the council, the fee increase would be projected to generate $26,000 in additional revenue. However, this additional revenue has not been assumed in the proposed FY 2015 budget.
According to the staff memo accompanying the agenda item, “market fees were last increased in 2009 and have not kept pace with the overall increase of annual operating costs during this same time period.” A comparative analysis of Ann Arbor’s fees also showed that Ann Arbor’s fees are well below those of comparable markets.
In the public services area, fees for a variety of services are being considered – for such items as site plan review, soil and sedimentation control. According to the staff memo accompanying the agenda item, the increases consider labor, material and supplies, equipment, and overhead cost and are aimed at full cost recovery. The increases are generally in the range of 1% to 5%.
Pension and VEBA Funding Policy
The council will be considering policies for making contributions to the pension and retiree health care plan that is supposed to ensure that the plans are eventually fully funded. The policy would set the funding at the higher of two different figures: (1) the Actuarial Required Contribution (ARC) rate; or (2) the existing level of contributions adjusted for the change in general fund revenues. That would have an impact of establishing a minimum increase in funding of 2% per year.
The operative language in the policy is:
If the General Fund revenues are projected to increase less than 2%, the city’s contribution shall increase 2%; thereby establishing a minimum increase of 2% per year.
The council’s agenda includes two items that can be characterized as funding social infrastructure: the annual general fund allocations to nonprofits that provide human services; and the acceptance of a planning grant for the 15th District Court to establish a mental health court.
Social Infrastructure: Coordinated Funding
The council will be asked at its May 19 meeting to approve funding allocations to nonprofits as part of a coordinated funding approach for human services, in partnership with several other local funders.
The city is one of the original five partners in the coordinated funding approach. Other partners include Washtenaw County, United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Urban County, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. It began as a pilot program in 2010.
This year, 105 applications were submitted by 50 local organizations totaling $8,732,389 in requested funding, according to a staff memo. A review committee recommended that 57 programs receive a total of $4,321,494 in available funding. Of that amount, the city is providing $1,244,629.
FY 15 Funding Source $1,244,629 City of Ann Arbor General Fund $1,760,708 United Way of Washtenaw County $1,015,000 Washtenaw County's General Fund $ 274,907 Washtenaw Urban County CDBG funds $ 26,250 Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation senior funds ========== $4,321,494 TOTAL
The coordinated funding process has three parts: planning/coordination, program operations, and capacity-building. The approach targets six priority areas, and identifies lead agencies for each area: (1) housing and homelessness – Washtenaw Housing Alliance; (2) aging – Blueprint for Aging; (3) school-aged youth – Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth; (4) children birth to six – Success by Six; (5) health – Washtenaw Health Plan; and (6) hunger relief – Food Gatherers.
In 2012, TCC Group – a consulting firm based in Philadelphia – was hired to evaluate the process. As a result of that review, several changes were recommended and later authorized by the city council at its Nov. 7, 2013 and by the Washtenaw County board on Nov. 6, 2013. One of those changes is that funding would not necessarily be allocated to the six priority areas based on the proportion of funding allocated in the past. Instead, allocations among the six priority areas would be based on identified community-level outcomes, the strategies that align with them, and how each are prioritized. An additional change would broaden the pre-screening process so that smaller nonprofits could be accommodated.
Funding for this cycle will start on July 1, 2014. In addition, the RNR Foundation – a family foundation that funded TCC Group’s evaluation of the coordinated funding approach – will now be an additional funder in this process.
The RNR Foundation funding will go toward the planning/coordination and capacity building components of the effort, so their funding is not listed among the items in the program operating component.
Here’s a breakdown of how the program operating component of the city of Ann Arbor’s share will be allocated:
FY 2015 Agency $20,000 Barrier Busters $30,000 Peace Neighborhood Center $35,069 Ozone House Inc. $54,168 Domestic Violence Project Inc. dba SafeHouse Center $56,396 UM Regents (Community Dental Center, Housing Bureau for Seniors) $85,500 Avalon Housing $90,786 Child Care Network $102,156 Food Gatherers $115,558 The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County $122,095 Washtenaw Community Health Organization $160,761 Shelter Association of Washtenaw County $164,660 Community Action Network $207,480 Legal Services of South Central Michigan $1,244,629 Grand Total
That compares with the current fiscal year as follows:
FY 2014 Agency $4,561 HIV/AIDS Resource Center $12,772 Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy $14,282 Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan $17,139 Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County $19,835 Barrier Busters $23,719 UM Regents - Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels $27,369 The Women's Center of Southeastern Michigan $63,419 Home of New Vision $91,645 Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County $94,490 Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw $95,171 Food Gatherers $104,944 Community Action Network $109,851 Perry Nursery School of Ann Arbor $142,851 Avalon Housing Inc. $177,052 Services of South Central Michigan $245,529 Shelter Association of Washtenaw County $1,244,629 Grand Total
The coordinated funding approach sometimes results in the same programs being funded – but by different funders. This year, the city of Ann Arbor is funding a program for Peace Neighborhood Center; last year Washtenaw County provided funding ($19,995) for Peace Neighborhood Center. And last year, the city of Ann Arbor funded a University of Michigan meals-on-wheels program; this year, United Way is funding that program.
Recipients of funds in one year are not guaranteed funding the following year. An example of that is the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan, which received $27,369 from the city of Ann Arbor last year for a mental health program, but is not receiving funds as part of the coordinated funding program this year.
Social Infrastructure: Mental Health Court
The council is being asked to approve the receipt of a planning grant of $113,154 from the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) to fund the planning for a mental health court program.
According to the staff memo accompanying the item, mental health courts are problem-solving courts “that focus on therapeutic treatment for offenders with mental illnesses whose crimes are a result of their mental illness.”
The memo continues:
Eligible defendants are diverted into judicially supervised, community-based treatment to address the underlying problems. The program uses a team approach to address the participant’s needs for mental health and/or substance abuse treatment while also linking the participant with ancillary services such as education, housing, job skills or other individualized assistance. The goal is to assist participants in bettering their lives while also benefiting the community by reducing jail time, recidivism rates, and court docket congestion.
The 15th District Court already operates several specialized courts – a sobriety court, a homeless court, veterans court and domestic violence court. The mental health court would be operated in addition to those other specialized courts.
For background on the 15th District Court’s specialized “problem-solving” courts from last year’s Chronicle reporting, see: “Round 1 FY 2014: 15th District Court.”
Physical infrastructure appears on the council’s May 19 agenda in several forms: an allocation of money to deal with damage to systems from the harsh winter; a Pontiac Trail street reconstruction project; and several sidewalk projects.
Physical Infrastructure: Winter Damage
The council will be asked to approve an allocation that includes utilities infrastructure, to address the needs that resulted from the severe winter weather.
According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, compared to last year there was a 36% increase in water main breaks and a 950% increase of broken water services. Compared to the previous two years winters, the 2013-14 winter had 272% more snow and a 450% increase in required plowing. That meant additional use of materials like ice-control salt, sand, cold-patch, pipe, repair clamps and fittings – in addition to higher-than-anticipated work hours and overtime, and increased equipment costs.
The resolution the council will consider would allocate money from the fund balance reserves from three sources: $1.7 million from the major street fund, $638,000 from the local street fund, and $666,000 from the water fund. Those amounts include $461,171 from the state of Michigan.
The work will include frozen service line repairs, pavement marking, and road surface repair. The work is not anticipated to be completed until well after June 30, 2014 – the end of the current fiscal year.
At a May 12 city council work session, public services area administrator Craig Hupy presented the council with some data on the age of the city’s piping system, saying that for the water pipes, those that were constructed in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are more problematic than those built before and after that period. Still, he indicated that the city’s breakage rate was considered low for a system that is as old as Ann Arbor’s.
Physical Infrastructure: Pontiac Trail
The council will consider two resolutions in connection with a street reconstruction project on Pontiac Trail.
The first is a $2,605,190 contract with Evergreen Civil LLC for construction of the project. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, the project includes reconstruction of Pontiac Trail beginning north of Skydale Drive to south of the bridge over M-14/US-23. The project also includes extending water mains and sewer pipes, as well as construction of new sidewalk along the east side of Pontiac Trail, and installation of bike lanes. The memo also indicates the project will include stormwater infiltration trenches, edge drains, and the addition of a small section of curb and gutter. The project is expected to begin in June of 2014 and be completed by fall of 2014.
The other contract to be considered by the council in connection with the Pontiac Trail project is $46,879 for Professional Services Industries Inc. for materials testing.
Responding to a query from The Chronicle, city project manager Nick Hutchinson indicated that the council would be presented at its June 16 meeting with the next in a series of resolutions on special assessment to help fund the sidewalk portion of the Pontiac Trail project. The council had voted at its Jan. 21, 2014 meeting to direct the city administrator to prepare plans, specifications and a cost estimate for the Pontiac Trail sidewalk project. The special assessment process requires the setting of an assessment roll and the holding of a public hearing before a special assessment can be imposed.
Physical Infrastructure: Sidewalks
Three other sidewalk projects that are further along in the special assessment process than Pontiac Trail are also on the council’s May 19 agenda: Barton Road, Scio Church and Newport Road.
Physical Infrastructure: Sidewalks – Newport Road
A public hearing on the Newport Road sidewalk special assessment, which started on May 5, will continue at the council’s May 19 meeting. For the sidewalk segment on Newport Road, the council had approved at its April 21, 2014 meeting a resolution directing the city assessor to prepare a special assessment roll of properties to be assessed. The council took action to set the public hearing on the Newport Road special assessment for May 5.
The total amount to be special assessed for the Newport Road project is $49,746. But residents of the Newport Creek Site Condominium – who would not ordinarily be assessed, as their property isn’t adjacent to the sidewalk – have volunteered to contribute $10,228 to the project to help offset their neighbors’ assessments. Details of that arrangement are being finalized.
However, several residents spoke at the May 5 public hearing, opposing the special assessment.
Physical Infrastructure: Sidewalks – Scio Church
Again on the city council’s May 19 agenda are resolutions to set the assessment roll and set a public hearing (to be held June 16) for the special assessment of a Scio Church Road sidewalk. Action on the Scio Church sidewalk project special assessment had been postponed at the council’s April 21, 2014 meeting until May 19.
For this sidewalk project, the total cost is expected to be $365,100. Of that, about $164,000 will be paid from a federal surface transportation grant. The remaining $201,100 will be paid out of the city’s general fund and by the special assessment of just $1,626. It was the size of the total amount of special assessment that led to the postponement. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) argued at the April 21 meeting that the amount to be assessed was not worth the staff time to follow all the bureaucratic procedures involved in implementing the special assessment. He also called for 80% of any sidewalk project to be funded through non-special assessed funds.
Physical Infrastructure Sidewalks – Barton Road
On the city council’s May 19 agenda are resolutions to set the assessment roll and a public hearing (to be held on June 16) for the special assessment of a Barton Drive sidewalk. The sidewalk to be special assessed was part of an approval given at the council’s April 21 meeting: The council approved $177,100 of city funds for the construction of the Scio Church Road sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive.
The cost of the Barton Drive sidewalk has been calculated to be $80,606. Of that, about $36,000 will be paid from federal surface transportation funds. Of the remaining $44,606, the city’s general fund would pay $42,626, leaving just $1,980 to be paid through the special assessment.
By way of additional background, approval of the design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church Road stretches of new sidewalk had been approved by the city council at its March 3, 2014 meeting.
And at its July 15, 2013 meeting, the council had approved $15,000 for preliminary design of a sidewalk along Barton Drive. Even earlier – at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting – the council approved $15,000 for preliminary study of a sidewalk to be constructed along Scio Church, west of Seventh Street. On Nov. 7, 2013, the council approved another $35,000 for Scio Church sidewalk design work. The design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church stretches of new sidewalk drew on the previously authorized funding.
The preliminary planning budget of $15,000 for the Newport Road sidewalk gap was approved over a year ago by the council at its Jan. 23, 2013 meeting.
At its May 19 meeting, the city council will be asked to consider approval of application to the federal Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program to protect 260 acres of farmland located in Superior Township. The ALE program now includes what was previously known as the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP).
The farm parcels consist of property on either side of Vreeland Road, which is currently in agriculture production. Additional properties under the same ownership, adjacent to the farmland parcels, are also being considered for inclusion in the city’s greenbelt program, and the Vreeland Road properties are near other properties already protected as part of the greenbelt – the Meyer Preserve, the Jack R. Smiley Preserve and the Schultz conservation easement. Cherry Hill Nature Preserve is located just north of the property. [.jpg of greenbelt properties as of May 2014]
Here’s a dynamic map of properties outside the city already protected under the city’s greenbelt program. A 30-year open space and parkland preservation millage, which voters approved in 2003, funds both the greenbelt program as well as land acquisition for city parks. The border indicates the area where greenbelt funds can be spent to protect properties.
The city council will also vote on the confirmation of two appointments: Katherine Hollins to the city’s environmental commission; and Bob White, as a reappointment for his fourth term on the city’s historic district commission.
Hollins is a staffer with the Great Lakes Commission. She’s being appointed because David Stead’s lengthy service on the commission – dating from 2000, when the commission was established – had generated opposition among some councilmembers. Nominations to the environmental commission are made by the council as a whole, not by the mayor. In offering the substitute nomination, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated in an email to other councilmembers that “David Stead has decided that his life is busy enough he cannot do justice to serving on the commission.”
White was appointed to the historic district commission for his first three-year term in 2005.
4:39 p.m. The staff’s written responses to councilmember questions about agenda items are now available: [.pdf of May 19, 2014 agenda responses]
4:55 p.m. The final versions of possible budget amendments are now available. [.pdf of possible amendments to FY 2015 budget]
6:53 p.m. Pre-meeting activity. The scheduled meeting start is 7 p.m. Most evenings the actual starting time is between 7:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
6:54 p.m. Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) have arrived. City administrator Steve Powers is also here.
6:56 p.m. McKinley CEO Al Berriz is in attendance. Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Paul Krutko is also here – as he’s signed up to address the council during public commentary. One possible budget amendment is to eliminate $75,000 of annual funding for SPARK in favor of allocating that sum to human services. Skip Simms from SPARK is also here.
6:57 p.m. Eaton is quizzing high school students who are here to satisfy a class requirement. He lobs a softball: Do we live in a democracy or under a dictatorship?
6:58 p.m. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) has now arrived.
6:58 p.m. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) is also here, talking to people in the audience.
7:02 p.m. Remaining councilmembers are filtering in. Not yet spotted are Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1).
7:13 p.m. Call to order, moment of silence, pledge of allegiance.
7:13 p.m. Roll call of council. All councilmembers are present and correct.
7:14 p.m. Approval of agenda.
7:16 p.m. Sally Petersen (Ward 2) wants to move the LDFA budget amendment to the start of the amendment sequence. Teall moves DS-12 after DS-2. DS-12 is the human services allocation.
7:16 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve its agenda.
7:17 p.m. Communications from the city administrator. City administrator Steve Powers notes that on Memorial Day there will be no garbage pickup. That’s also the day the city pools open.
7:17 p.m. INT-1 Volunteer of Month: First Martin. First Martin Corp is being recognized for the work it did on the roundabout garden at Huron Parkway and Nixon. First Martin also maintains Liberty Plaza downtown and Wheeler Park on Depot Street.
7:17 p.m. Public commentary. This portion of the meeting offers 10 three-minute slots that can be reserved in advance. Preference is given to speakers who want to address the council on an agenda item. [Public commentary general time, with no sign-up required in advance, is offered at the end of the meeting.]
Eight people are signed up to speak on the issue of the FY 2015 city budget: Ray Gholston, Greg Pratt, Zoltan Jung, James Billingslea, Marc Bleckmann, Diane Kreger, Paul Krutko, and Tim Marshall. Alan Haber is signed up as an alternate to talk about the budget. Kermit Schlansker is signed up to talk about global warming and poverty. And Thomas Partridge is signed up to talk about the critical need for increased funding for human services and supporting Mark Schauer’s candidacy for governor of Michigan.
7:20 p.m. Thomas Partridge introduces himself as a Ward 5 resident and a recent candidate for various public offices. He’s here to talk about the critical need for affordable housing and affordable transportation. The city has come up with a formula for dividing up money for human services, which is very complicated, he says. Overall there’s not a high enough regard for human services, affordable housing and transportation, education or health services for the most vulnerable residents of the city. He tells the council they need to go back and come up with a better formula to support expanded funding for human services.
7:23 p.m. Ray Gholston introduces himself as a local human rights activist. He thanks the council for its concern and consideration of a resolution that would support a warming center. He says the Delonis Center has been doing a good job for over a decade, but they should not have to shoulder the burden alone.
7:26 p.m. Greg Pratt says he’s excited about Amendment 15, which would mean a $75,000 jump in human services funding. He’s supporting that. There’s been a glut of “corporate” welfare, he says. He allows that subsequent speakers might have a different perspective. But it’s important to have a stream of funds that support those who need it. He also supports Amendment 9, which he describes as “seed money.”
7:28 p.m. Zoltan Jung lives on Barton Drive. He’s talking about traffic calming. He puts it in the context of livability. Many residents have seen their livability decrease due to speeders and reckless drivers. He lives on Northside Avenue where kids can’t play on the street, because people use it as a cut-through. Traffic calming isn’t an end unto itself, he says. On Wells Street, the measures aren’t integrated into the Burns Park Elementary situation, he says. If you put a bump somewhere, that can just displace the problem. So traffic calming can’t be done in isolation.
7:31 p.m. James Billingslea is a Ward 1 resident. He’s speaking on behalf of bicyclists and pedestrians, who use his street. Cars have lost control on nine occasions, he says. His neighbor Joyce had nine cars wind up on her yard in a two-month period this winter, he says. At 25 mph, it takes 23 seconds to go down the entire street. They have to be constantly vigilant. Simply deploying more police officers or deploying traffic calming solutions is not going to solve the problem, he says. Cars are currently designed to help cars travel quickly, he says, not for the benefit of the community.
7:34 p.m. Marc Bleckmann lives on Northside Avenue. His kids attend Northside Elementary, which is a 10-minute walk to the school. But unfortunately that walk can be dangerous. He says that commuters “fly down the hypotenuse” of Northside Avenue when they use it as a cut-through. It’s one of many dangerous pedestrian situations, he says. He calls on the council to improve the livability of Ann Arbor by addressing this kind of problem.
7:35 p.m. Diane Kreger hopes it’s not redundant for the council to hear again from a resident of Northside Avenue. But she supports the budget amendment that would put more money toward traffic calming. [The amendment would reduce public art administration from $80,000 to $40,000 and allocate $40,000 to traffic calming.] She calls for effective traffic calming measures.
7:38 p.m. Paul Krutko is CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. He discourages the council from passing Amendment 1 and Amendment 15. He points to the partnership among various municipalities that supports SPARK. Last year, the council’s support resulted in $21 million worth of projects and created 752 jobs, he says. He points to the re-occupancy of the former Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor, he says. He’s proud of the business development work SPARK has done, he says.
7:39 p.m. Tim Marshall is not here.
7:41 p.m. Kermit Schlansker says that the conservative’s cure for poverty is to ignore it. The liberal’s solution is to get someone else to pay for it, he says. Neither is a good solution. He calls for land to be made available to poor people so that they can grow their own food. He calls for multi-purpose clusters of people. In the fall, city people should go out and help with the harvest, he says. He describes how the poor can eventually pay off their debt and own their own land. Land should belong to people who till it, not those who mow it, he says.
7:45 p.m. Alan Haber says he’s here to provide his usual alternative view. He’s going to be away for much of the summer, so he won’t be here to remind the council about the importance of the community. It’s important to have a human resource, he says. He feels like he’s not been getting through to the council. Haber is talking about the works of Peter Linebaugh. He wants the council to have a conversation about what a community commons is. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the human part, he says.
7:45 p.m. Communications from the council.
7:47 p.m. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) thanks the city attorney’s office for issuing cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft. There’s a meeting of the taxicab board this Thursday at 8:30 a.m., he says. He offers his condolences to the family that lost one of their own in a fire on Shady Lane last week.
7:48 p.m. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) highlights the fact that there are three vacancies on the environmental commission. She encourages people to apply. She also says that housing and human services advisory board also has some vacancies.
7:48 p.m. MC-1 appointments. The council is being asked to confirm the re-appointment of Bob White to the historic district commission for a fourth three-year term.
7:48 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to confirm Bob White’s re-appointment to the historic district commission.
7:48 p.m. MC-2 nominations Larry Eiler is being nominated to the Economic Development Corporation, replacing Daniel Blakemore. Andy Baker-White and Amanda Carlisle are being nominated to the housing and human services advisory board. A vote on their confirmations will come at the council’s next meeting.
7:48 p.m. Public Hearings. All the public hearings are grouped together during this section of the meeting. Any action on the related items comes later in the meeting. There’s no action item associated with tonight’s only public hearing – on a special assessment to be levied to help pay for the a sidewalk along Newport Road. This public hearing is being continued from the council’s previous meeting, when several property owners spoke against it. [For background, see Physical Infrastructure: Sidewalks – Newport Road above.]
7:50 p.m. PH-1 Newport Road sidewalk special assessment. Eric Preisner is a resident of Ward 1, representing the Riverwood subdivision homeowners association. As a group, they’re in support of the proposal. The affirmative vote was 75% in favor, he says.
7:55 p.m. Thomas Partridge says there should be consideration given to some of the property owners, including a church that will be special assessed, he says. Those who have special hardships or circumstances should not be pressed into a one-size-fits-all special assessment, he says.
7:55 p.m. A resident who spoke last time asks to speak. His question is going to be handled by public services area administrator Craig Hupy away from the podium.
7:55 p.m. Consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda includes:
- CA-1 Approve contract for construction materials testing with Professional Services Industries Inc. for the Pontiac Trail improvements project ($46,879). [For background, see Physical Infrastructure: Pontiac Trail above.]
- CA-2 Street Closing: N. Fourth Avenue and E. Ann Street for the 19th Annual African-American Downtown Festival (Friday, June 6, 2014 to Saturday, June 7, 2014).
- CA-3 Approve April 24, 2014 recommendations of the board of insurance administration.
7:55 p.m. CA-1 Approve contract for construction materials testing with Professional Services Industries Inc. for the Pontiac Trail improvements project ($46,879).
7:56 p.m. Briere says she’s gotten a lot of questions about whether the city monitors the quality of the materials used for street improvement project. This resolution shows that the city does monitor material quality, she says.
7:57 p.m. Outcome: The council has completed its approval of the consent agenda.
7:57 p.m. C-1 Amend Sections 2:63, 2:64, and 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Water, Sewer, and Stormwater Rates). These are the annual rate increases for water, sewer and stormwater. [For background, see Fees and Rates: Water, Sewer, Stormwater above.]
7:59 p.m. Lumm says that the utility rates aren’t something that the council discusses a lot. These increases will increase city revenues by a total of $2.3 million, so it’s worth talking about, she says. There are significant capital needs, she says. She’s comfortable that the increases are needed, she says. Based on her experience on the board of insurance review, it’s clear that the city’s utility infrastructure is aging, she says. This kind of rate increase has been imposed in recent years in an attempt to level out the needed increases, she says.
7:59 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give initial approval to the increases in utility rates.
7:59 p.m. DC-1 Environmental commission appointment. This resolution would appoint Katherine Hollins to the environmental commission. Hollins is a staffer with the Great Lakes Commission.
8:00 p.m. Briere says she has little to add except that Hollins would begin her service on June 1.
8:00 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to appoint Hollins to the environmental commission.
8:00 p.m. DC-2 Authorization to join amicus brief in Deboer v Snyder and Schuette. This resolution follows on a resolution approved at the council’s April 7, 2014 meeting to ask that Gov. Rick Snyder and attorney general Bill Schuette not appeal the ruling of judge Bernard Friedman on the Deboer et al v Richard Snyder et al case – that the Michigan statute on marriage impermissibly discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. This resolution authorizes adding the city of Ann Arbor to a list of municipalities supporting an amicus brief, as the case now is being heard before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
8:02 p.m. Taylor reminds the public of the council’s previous resolution urging the dropping of the appeal. He says that it’s not surprising that Snyder and Schuette have gone ahead with the appeal. Even though the city is not a litigant, it’s common that parties who will be affected by a decision will weigh in with an amicus brief, he says.
8:02 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to authorize adding Ann Arbor to a list of municipalities supporting the finding that Michigan’s definition of marriage discriminates impermissibly against same-sex couples.
8:02 p.m. DC-3 Remove funding in CIP for city hall reskin. This resolution would recommend to the planning commission that the six-year capital improvement plan for FY 2017 and FY 2018 be revised to remove the $4.4 million that is included for the city hall re-skinning project. The planning commission is the body that approves the CIP. The council has budgetary discretion to fund projects in the CIP or not.
8:03 p.m. By way of background, the “reskin” would eliminate the stairstepped shape of the Larcom Building by dropping the exterior straight down from the top floor, thereby adding square footage to the lower stories.
8:04 p.m. Lumm is arguing that the reskin “might be nice” but that there are other more pressing capital needs.
8:06 p.m. Petersen characterizes the project as mostly cosmetic, although there are some energy efficiency components. She wants to retain those aspects of the project. Lumm says that the kind of amendment that Petersen is indicating isn’t possible because the amounts aren’t known. Hieftje says that this isn’t timely and that there’s a lot on tonight’s agenda. He thinks it should be postponed.
8:09 p.m. Briere notes that the resolution asks the planning commission to remove funding, which it’s not empowered to do. Teall moves for postponement until June 2.
Lumm is arguing for her proposal to remove the reskinning. Kunselman supports the postponement. He characterizes the CIP as a “wish list” and notes that the council controls the funding. He’s not worried about the fact that the reskinning project is in the CIP. The planning commission is putting the CIP together based on its statutory responsibilities, he says.
8:10 p.m. Kunselman says he’s willing to postpone it, but asking the planning commission to remove it doesn’t really do much.
8:10 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone the item on the city hall reskinning until June 2.
8:10 p.m. Opposition to oil drilling. This resolution would oppose the oil exploration and drilling proposed by West Bay Exploration under MDEQ permit application #AI40053. The drilling would not take place inside the city limits, as the city is empowered by the state to prohibit drilling, which it does through the city code. However, the location in Scio Township is within two miles from the city limits and less than a mile from the Huron River, which is the source of the majority of the city’s drinking water.
The state zoning enabling act, as revised in 2006, deprives townships and counties of the ability to regulate drilling. Opposition to the drilling is grounded in concerns about the impact on the drinking water supply of the city, especially in the context of a 1,4 dioxane plume in the area of the proposed drilling activity.
In addition to expressing opposition to the proposed drilling in the shorter term and in the future, the text of the resolution requests that the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality require an environmental impact assessment, including impacts to surrounding natural resources and public health, before making a decision. Further, the resolution calls on state legislators to revise the state’s zoning enabling act to provide townships and counties with the power to regulate drilling activity.
8:11 p.m. Warpehoski, the resolution’s sponsor, is providing the context of this item. He has consulted with community activists and notes that city administrator Steve Powers has sent a letter to the MDEQ. He’s reviewing the specific content of the resolution.
8:13 p.m. Warpehoski notes that the city has language in its city code prohibiting drilling, but townships don’t have the power to enact such a prohibition. He says he considered putting off the resolution, given the full agenda tonight, but the time constraints of the permitting process were fairly tight, he said. Taylor offers remarks in support of the resolution.
8:13 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted approve the resolution in opposition to drilling.
8:13 p.m. DB-1 Approve grant applications for USDA support for purchase of development rights (PDR). This resolution would approve application to the federal Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program to protect 260 acres of farmland located in Superior Township. The ALE program now includes what was previously known as the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP). The farm parcels consist of property on either side of Vreeland Road, which is currently in agriculture production. [For background, see Greenbelt above.]
8:15 p.m. Taylor, who serves on the greenbelt advisory commission, is describing the content of the resolution. He says it’s a very useful and important source of funds to help leverage the city’s greenbelt dollars. Lumm asks that a map be provided – which it turns out was added late. Lumm asks if the city anticipates other funding sources besides the federal grant and city greenbelt funds. Community services area administrator Sumedh Bahl says that Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation and Superior Township might contribute funds.
8:15 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the grant application to the USDA program for purchase of development rights in connection with the city’s greenbelt program and properties in Superior Township.
8:15 p.m. DS-1 Scio Church sidewalk special assessment resolution No. 2 ($1,626.00). This resolution would direct the preparation of the special assessment roll. [For background, see Physical Infrastructure: Sidewalks – Scio Church above.]
8:17 p.m. Kunselman says this had been postponed so that the city attorney could provide some clarification on equity issues. He’s willing to support this, but says it’s foolish to be special assessing that small an amount. City attorney Stephen Postema says that that analysis was provided to the council. He says the de minimus issue Kunselman had asked about is not a recognized method of dealing with an exception.
8:20 p.m. Lumm says that even though it’s a small amount, the city needs to be consistent and the rules need to be followed. She doesn’t know what to do about situations where a federal grant is available for some cases and not others. Eaton says that the legal analysis was actually that there’s no case law that’s on point. He says that the houses that haven’t had a sidewalk for some time wouldn’t suffer a detriment. The whole neighborhood is getting a benefit, and the three properties that are being special assessed would not get a special benefit, he says.
8:20 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct preparation of the assessment roll for the Scio Church sidewalk project, over the lone dissent of Eaton.
8:20 p.m. DS-2 Scio Church sidewalk special assessment resolution No. 3 (set public hearing). This resolution would set the public hearing on the Scio Church sidewalk special assessment for June 16, 2014.
8:20 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to set a public hearing on the Scio Church sidewalk special assessment for June 16, 2014.
8:21 p.m. DS-12 Approve FY 2015 and FY 2016 allocations to non-profit entities for human services ($1,244,629). This year, 105 applications were submitted by 50 local organizations totaling $8,732,389 in requested funding, according to a staff memo. A review committee recommended that 57 programs receive a total of $4,321,494 in available funding. Of that amount, the city is providing $1,244,629. [For background, see Social Infrastructure: Coordinated Funding above.]
8:23 p.m. Lumm is thanking staff and everyone who worked so hard on this. There’s a very robust and through process in place to ensures that money flows to those in most need. Teall says it’s a very complex process and not everybody will end up happy. Mary Jo Callan and Andrea Plevek – staff with the county’s office of community and economic development – are at the podium to describe the process of coordinated funding.
8:24 p.m. Callan is noting that there was a little less funding this year, with a lot more requests for a lot more money.
8:25 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the human services allocations made through the coordinated funding process.
8:25 p.m. DS-3 Award contract to Evergreen LLC for Pontiac Trail Improvements Project ($2,605,190). According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, the project includes reconstruction of Pontiac Trail beginning north of Skydale Drive to south of the bridge over M-14/US-23. The project also includes extending water mains and sewer pipes, as well as construction of new sidewalk along the east side of Pontiac Trail, and installation of bike lanes. The memo also indicates the project will include stormwater infiltration trenches, edge drains, and the addition of a small section of curb and gutter. The project is expected to begin in June of 2014 and be completed by fall of 2014. [For background, see Physical Infrastructure: Pontiac Trail above.]
8:26 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to award the contract to Evergreen LLC for the Pontiac Trail improvement project.
8:26 p.m. DS-4 Appropriate funds from major street ($1,700,000), local street ($638,000), and water funds ($666,000) to address severe winter expenses and damage. This resolution would allocate money needed to pay for added expenses resulting from the severe winter. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, compared to last year there was a 36% increase in water main breaks and a 950% increase of broken water services.
Compared to the previous two years winters, the 2013-14 winter had 272% more snow and a 450% increase in required plowing. That meant additional use of materials like ice-control salt, sand, cold-patch, pipe, repair clamps and fittings – in addition to higher-than-anticipated work hours and overtime, and increased equipment costs. The resolution the council will consider would allocate money from the fund balance reserves from three sources: $1.7 million from the major street fund, $638,000 from the local street fund, and $666,000 from the water fund. Those amounts include $461,171 from the state of Michigan. [For background, see Physical Infrastructure: Winter Damage above.]
8:29 p.m. Briere says that her understanding is that this money comes from fund balance. City administrator Steve Powers tells Briere that over $400,000 came from the state of Michigan through an emergency appropriation. Craig Hupy says that there were more than 100 water main breaks but that still puts Ann Arbor in the better half of municipalities. Lumm says that the council knew this was coming but didn’t know what the price tag would be.
8:31 p.m. Kunselman says he appreciates the description of the water main breaks as “average” but he wants to know about the geographic distribution of those breaks. He wants to know if the breaks were in the areas where the mains were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Hupy says that analysis hasn’t been done. Kunselman says he wants to see the geographic distribution of the breaks.
8:32 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to allocate the additional funds from various sources to cover the expenses associated with the severe winter.
8:32 p.m. DS-5 Approve mental health court planning grant contract ($113,154). The council is being asked to approve the receipt of a planning grant of $113,154 from the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) to fund the planning for a mental health court program. According to the staff memo accompanying the item, mental health courts are problem-solving courts “that focus on therapeutic treatment for offenders with mental illnesses whose crimes are a result of their mental illness.” The 15th District Court already operates several specialized courts – a sobriety court, a homeless court, veterans court and domestic violence court. The mental health court would be operated in addition to those other specialized courts.
8:33 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the planning grant for a mental health court.
8:33 p.m. DS-6 Barton Drive sidewalk special assessment resolution No. 2 ($1,980). This resolution would set the special assessment roll for the Barton Drive sidewalk project. [For background, see Physical Infrastructure Sidewalks – Barton Road above.]
8:37 p.m. Briere wants to note that much of the cost is being borne by the city and federal government, but there’s a small assessment for owners on Barton Drive. This is something that people in the Northside neighborhood have been demanding for a long time, she says. Kunselman says he’s appreciative of the fact that the city and federal funds are covering much of the cost. The resulting amount of the special assessment is very small and it’s just a couple of parcels that are carrying the burden for a greater community benefit, he says. For the next meeting, he’ll be requesting that the city come back and pay for the Barton and the Scio Church special assessments.
8:37 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct the setting of the assessment roll for the Barton Drive sidewalk project.
8:37 p.m. DS-7 Barton Drive sidewalk special assessment resolution No. 3 (set a public hearing). This resolution would set the public hearing on the Barton Drive sidewalk special assessment for June 16, 2014.
8:38 p.m. Briere makes two points. She’d like to have a longer discussion about whether it’s rational for the city to special assess individual property owners for a larger community benefit. She also asks that the wording be corrected to fix a copy-paste error.
8:38 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to set a public hearing on the Baron Drive sidewalk special assessment for June 16, 2014.
8:38 p.m. DS-8 Adopt revised funding policies for pension and VEBA. The council will be considering policies for making contributions to the pension and retiree health care plan that are supposed to ensure that the plans are eventually fully funded. The policy would set the funding at the higher of two different figures: (1) the Actuarial Required Contribution (ARC) rate; or (2) the existing level of contributions adjusted for the change in general fund revenues. That would have an impact of establishing a minimum increase in funding of 2% per year.
8:39 p.m. Lumm is reviewing the content of the resolution and how the minimum contribution is 2%. She says she supports this resolution 110%.
8:40 p.m. Kailasapathy notes that there’s about $100 million in unfunded pension liability and about $160 million in unfunded VEBA. So this is an important resolution, she says.
8:40 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to adopt the revised funding policies for the pension and VEBA plans.
8:40 p.m. DS-9 Approve FY 2015 fee adjustments for public services area. These are the fees in the areas of project management, systems planning, field operations and customer service.
8:41 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the fee adjustments for the public services area.
8:41 p.m. DS-10 Approve FY 2015 fee adjustments for community services area. The proposed increase this year involves raising farmers market fees. [For background, see Fees and Rates: Community and Public Services Area above.]
8:43 p.m. Lumm focuses on the increases for the stall rental at the farmers market. She’s concerned about the impact on vendors. She calls the staff analysis of the comparative rates at other markets very helpful. She says that the process was followed correctly. She’ll support this, but still has some concerns, she says.
8:43 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the fee adjustments for the community services area.
8:43 p.m. Recess.
8:50 p.m. Here’s a number list of possible amendments the council will consider when the meeting resumes. [.pdf of possible FY 2015 budget amendments]
8:55 p.m. Jane Lumm is passing out Keebler cheese and crackers to colleagues during the break.
8:58 p.m. We’re back.
8:58 p.m. DS-11 Adopt FY 2015 city budget. For background on the budget and possible amendments, see: “Budget Debate Preview: Cops, Leaves.” For final versions of possible amendments to the budget – numbered in a way that councilmembers will likely reference during tonight’s deliberations – see: [.pdf of possible FY 2015 budget amendments]
9:01 p.m. Budget amendment: LDFA, Ann Arbor SPARK. This 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. So the resolution would decrease the expenditure by $165,379 to the prior year’s level of $1,814,892. The unspent funds would instead be reserved for “future infrastructure improvements.” (Kailasapathy, Eaton, Anglin)
9:03 p.m. Kailasapathy is reviewing how the LDFA funding has increased as a result of the TIF (tax increment finance) capture. She says that SPARK has had a 70% increase in funding from the LDFA in the last few years.
9:04 p.m. For Kailasapathy, government is all about sharing, she says. When there’s additional windfall revenue, that should be shared, she says.
9:05 p.m. The money should be used for community-based development like high-speed telecommunications. She’s only asking that the budget be capped at $1.814 million, with the rest to be used for infrastructure that will benefit the community, including startups. She’s not taking all their money away, she says.
9:07 p.m. Eaton will support this. Setting aside some of the new TIF capture is consistent with the LDFA foundational documents, which highlight the possibility of adding infrastructure – in the form of high-speed fiber connections. If we want downtown to be a high-tech center, he says, it’s something that could be aimed for. This could be a good start, he says.
9:09 p.m. Petersen says she feels like this budget amendment misses the point. The revenue should be going up, if the LDFA is doing its job. The reason why the LDFA is getting more is because they are giving more, she says. With respect to the fund balance, it’s an incremental increase of $415,000, and the LDFA had decided only $165,000 would go to SPARK and the rest would go to the LDFA fund balance. If there’s a specific recommendation the council wants to make, she’d like to see that as a separate resolution.
9:10 p.m. Anglin notes that earlier in the meeting, utility fees went up for residents. The LDFA is being asked to support infrastructure improvements, he says.
9:12 p.m. Taylor says SPARK is an entity we’re fortunate to have, and SPARK does good things for entrepreneurs and growth. He doesn’t believe the proposal is wise and thinks that SPARK should be given as many resources that they can be legally provided to continue their work.
9:14 p.m. Hieftje gets clarification from Petersen that she’d like a resolution from the city council simply recommending that the LDFA pursue a high-speed fiber network. Petersen indicates that the LDFA board has not gotten to that level of granularity. High-speed fiber is one option, she says. She would love to see a resolution from the council directing the use of fund balance for high-speed fiber. [Petersen serves as the council representative to the LDFA board.]
9:15 p.m. Lumm thinks that the direction Petersen is talking about could be incorporated into this amendment. Lumm notes that the economic collaborative task force, which Petersen led, recommends investment in a high-speed fiber network.
9:15 p.m. Lumm is working on a possible revision to the amendment.
9:17 p.m. Eaton says that the language Lumm is trying to add is already in the last resolved clause – so he doesn’t think Lumm’s revision is necessary. Briere asks for someone from the LDFA to come forward.
9:20 p.m. Carrie Leahy, the chair of the LDFA board, and former councilmember Stephen Rapundalo, who’s a member of the LDFA board, are at the podium to field questions. They’re describing how the LDFA relies on SPARK to provide required reporting, that could be driven by the extension of the LDFA (by 5 or 15 years). SPARK had asked for additional marketing funding to market the message of the LDFA to the community.
9:21 p.m. Rapundalo says that the additional money is in response to growing demand. They’ve heard that the message is not getting out enough throughout the entrepreneurial community what the LDFA has to offer.
9:23 p.m. Rapundalo says the LDFA has considered infrastructure needs nearly every year. When the city was applying for the Google Fiber initiative, LDFA had promised $250,000 if the city had been awarded the Google grant. There has not been much demand for the infrastructure, he says, but rather on the programming side.
9:26 p.m. CFO Tom Crawford is clarifying that what the council can do is affect the bottom line of the budget, but not the individual expenditures. Briere ventures that about 60% of the “windfall” is already being reserved in the fund balance. Rapundalo says the board has been judicious over the years. He says that the LDFA has not always acceded to SPARK’s requests.
9:29 p.m. Eaton asks if there have been any infrastructure projects over the years. Rapundalo points to the possibility that the LDFA entertained with the Google Fiber initiative. He also characterizes incubator space as infrastructure, but Eaton appears not to accept that as “infrastructure” in the sense that it’s meant in the LDFA foundational documents.
9:31 p.m. Lumm is returning to the topic of the economic collaborative task force and the inclusion of high-speed fiber in the final report of that group.
9:32 p.m. Hieftje says that the council should follow Petersen’s suggestion to pass a resolution at the next meeting to ask the LDFA to work on a high-speed fiber network.
9:33 p.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on the LDFA by a 5-6 vote. Voting for it were Eaton, Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Lumm, and Anglin.
9:35 p.m. Budget amendment: Human Services, SPARK. This proposal would eliminate the city general fund allocation of $75,000 to Ann Arbor SPARK and put that money toward human services. (Kailasapathy, Eaton, Anglin)
9:35 p.m. Eaton is arguing for this amendment, saying that the $75,000 is a pittance compared to the amount SPARK receives from the LDFA. He also points to increased funding SPARK has received from the county – through Act 88.
9:37 p.m. Kailasapathy is contrasting this amendment with a different one on the list that would form a warming center from money drawn from the affordable housing trust fund. She calls Briere’s approach a status quo approach – taking money from a needy population and giving it to a different needy population. So she prefers that this amendment on SPARK pass. She appeals to councilmembers to support this because it’s not a big amount for SPARK but is a big deal for a population that needs to be taken care of.
9:38 p.m. Anglin says that back in 2008, many nonprofits disappeared. SPARK should share some of what they have for those who are less fortunate, he says. Economic development goes with social development, he says.
9:42 p.m. Petersen has invited Tim Marshall – chair of SPARK’s board and CEO of the Bank of Ann Arbor – to the podium to explain the difference between the LDFA funding of SPARK and the city’s funding of SPARK. The difference, he says, is that the LDFA is funded through the state. That’s the entrepreneurial side. The $75,000 goes for attraction and retention, he says. Attraction and retention requires skilled people, he says. You can’t say that SPARK should lose on the general fund contribution because it won on the LDFA side. He claims that the return on the investment is about one job for every $100 of investment.
9:44 p.m. Petersen says that the $75,000 is the only line item in the budget that is solely dedicated to economic development, and given that the council has said that’s a priority, she doesn’t know why the council would eliminate that funding. She’s now reviewing what the scope of services is that SPARK provides.
9:46 p.m. Petersen says that the council has gotten 752 new jobs for its $75,000. SPARK does not just share the wealth, it creates wealth, Petersen says. When SPARK helps to occupy empty buildings, that increases the value of the property and that increases revenue to the city, Petersen says.
9:48 p.m. Prompted by Lumm, Marshall is explaining the difference between the city’s general fund contribution to SPARK and the LDFA funding of SPARK.
9:55 p.m. Kunselman goes back to the $250,000 that comes from the county, which Eaton had mentioned. Marshall acknowledges that contribution and calls it a wonderful private-public collaboration. He says there are about 35-40 private companies, including his own Bank of Ann Arbor, that contribute to SPARK.
SPARK CEO Paul Krutko says that Saline, Dexter, Chelsea, Ypsilanti, Superior Township and Ypsilanti Township all make contributions. Kunselman asks about expansion to other areas – to Livingston County. With all the contributors, how does the city of Ann Arbor know that Ann Arbor is priority one? Marshall says that you have to look at the report card every year. Are there winners and losers every year? Kunselman asks. Krutko says that it’s a regional issue – the boundaries are not important, he says. This region is in competition with the rest of the world, he says.
9:55 p.m. Eaton asks if SPARK has ever had an independent audit of its jobs claims.
9:59 p.m. No, says Krutko. But SPARK has had independent audits of it finances. Eaton says he’s troubled that SPARK only recently provided those financial audits. Why is it so hard to get information from SPARK – on finances or on audited jobs figures? Eaton asks. Krutko says that this region has outperformed every other region in the country.
10:00 p.m. Kailasapathy asks for the amounts that the other municipalities contribute. Krutko doesn’t have that information, but can get it to Kailasapathy later. She comes back with: “We vote today!”
10:04 p.m. Krutko is describing SPARK’s approach as creative – because it combines entrepreneurial support, with retention and attraction, and marketing. Petersen is now describing the activity of the economic development collaborative task force. That task force is done and the next step is to form a policy group, she says.
10:06 p.m. Kunselman suggests reducing the amount to $50,000, so that $25,000 would be available for human services. That’s the amendment that’s on the floor. Kunselman says he’s not an expert on economic development, but he’s a keen observer of his surroundings. He ventures that most of the growth in jobs is simply backfilling existing space. Most of the activity is driven by the University of Michigan, Kunselman says.
10:07 p.m. Kunselman is willing to support SPARK’s retention efforts and recognizes the importance of being a good partner. He appreciates the county’s contribution.
10:11 p.m. Petersen responds to Kunselman’s remark about backfilling commercial properties. When that happens outside the DDA district, that incremental revenue goes to the general fund. Kunselman responds by saying that’s a broad statement. When a commercial building becomes vacant, the taxes are not automatically decreased, he points out. To say that the development that backfills property space adds to taxable value isn’t necessarily true, Kunselman says. He ventures that the real property tax for the Borders property downtown did not decrease when it went vacant.
10:14 p.m. Taylor calls this an unwise proposal. The city needs to make sure that the city is supportive of SPARK. The city should not freeload, he says. To pull money out is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Warpehoski notes that it’s the Red Queen dilemma – the city needs to run as fast as it can just to stay in place. He shares some of Eaton’s concerns about SPARK’s transparency. For the $75,000, Warpehoski feels like it’s a worthwhile investment. So he’ll oppose the amendment.
10:17 p.m. Briere says that this particular amendment is emblematic about why she doesn’t like to defund one thing to fund another thing. She notes that the discussion so far has not focused at all on the need to increase funding for human services – because it’s focused only on SPARK. If human services is a value, that’s what the council should be talking about. She’d spoken to Kailasapathy about the need to have additional money for human services. The way the resolution reads now, she says, is that it would put $25,000 toward a warming center. That would not work, she says.
10:20 p.m. Briere says she can see a lot of positive impacts. She can’t attribute it all to SPARK, but she feels like SPARK plays a role in that. She feels like the human services part was like a poker chip, and that the real intent was to defund SPARK. Teall agrees that it’s all about defunding SPARK and not about human services. She’s frustrated that councilmembers don’t see the connection between the increased economic activity and the ability of the city to fund those things it wants to fund. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” she says. She also has an issue with the idea that Ann Arbor is competing with other communities and ventures that Kunselman has a very strong competitive nature.
10:23 p.m. Hieftje pleads with the council to move to a vote, saying that at this rate we’ll be here until breakfast. Lumm wants another turn. She says no one would be against economic development. Lumm wonders how much of the economic development SPARK is responsible for.
10:25 p.m. Eaton says it’s not an effort to defund SPARK, pointing out that SPARK is going to receive a lot of money. He points out that SPARK will still get the $50,000 from the general fund (as revised by Kunselman) and Ann Arbor residents pay the county’s Act 88 tax as well, he points out.
10:26 p.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on SPARK by a 5-6 vote. Voting for it were Eaton, Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Lumm, and Anglin.
10:27 p.m. Budget amendment: Police staffing – decrease. This 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)
10:29 p.m. Warpehoski is recounting his conversation with Jim Balmer of Dawn Farms on the topic of opiate abuse. He’s relating a vignette about someone he knows who sought treatment and had no resources in the city to which he could appeal.
10:30 p.m. Teall asks for Mary Jo Callan, director of community & economic development for the county and city, to approach the podium. Teall wants Callan to talk about how the funds could be allocated for treatment. Callan indicates there’s definitely a need.
10:35 p.m. Eaton wants to know how many people could be housed with $95,000. Callan says that the money might also be used for staff. The AADL and PORT don’t have the staff to deal with all the people who are in need. So one option would be to have a robust presence at the library. One possibility is temporary housing in the form of hotel rooms as a bridge to something more permanent. Callan allows that $95,000 will not solve the problem. It could pay for some staffing and some treatment, and some hotel nights. It would need to be leveraged with other resources, she says.
10:37 p.m. Briere says that, for example, an additional $20,000 for Catholic Social Services could make a big impact – like it could for any of the human services nonprofits.
10:38 p.m. Lumm tells Callan she has huge respect and admiration for her. But she won’t support this amendment. She’s reviewing what the impact would be.
10:39 p.m. This amendment is 180 degrees opposite of the direction the city should be going, Lumm says.
10:41 p.m. Kunselman asks Callan how many people are seeking heroin addiction treatment voluntarily versus through a court order. Callan doesn’t know, but can get that information. Kunselman says he won’t support this resolution. He says that it’s naive to think that people will seek treatment just because someone is there at the library to do outreach.
10:43 p.m. Petersen says she’s struggling to support this. Substance abuse and mental health issues are important, but she’s reluctant to reduce the number of police officers to fund it.
10:45 p.m. Kailasapathy says there’s $235,000 in the fund balance that can be used for treatment and education. She allows that it’s campaign season again and as she talks to people at doors, they don’t talk about crime. They talk about other issues, like trucks speeding down their streets causing their foundations to rattle.
10:45 p.m. It’s hard to make these kinds of choices, Kailasapathy says. But she won’t support taking money from the “underfunded police.” She’s really sorry, though.
10:47 p.m. Teall says she’s going to address Petersen’s concerns. This amendment is going to help the police, she says. It will fund someone to do outreach work that a police officer can’t do, she says.
10:48 p.m. There’s need for outreach on a level that a beat cop can’t do, Teall says. There’s such a need in the community, she adds, and crime is down.
10:50 p.m. Eaton says his recollection was that police chief Seto’s request for additional police officers was not based on the increase in heroin cases. It was based on a broad community need for various kinds of community engagement, he says.
10:51 p.m. Hieftje pleads that the council move to a vote, saying that no one will say anything new on this topic.
10:52 p.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on 2-9 vote. Voting for it were Warpehoski and Teall.
10:53 p.m. The council has suspended its rule on starting closed sessions before 11 p.m.
10:53 p.m. We’re now in recess.
10:58 p.m. Mayor Hieftje has been ill and his voice is not particularly strong tonight.
11:00 p.m. Hieftje is rounding people up.
11:00 p.m. We’re back.
11:01 p.m. Budget amendment: 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. (Taylor, Teall, Hieftje, Warpehoski)
11:03 p.m. Taylor says that Ann Arbor has an ambitious long-range climate action plan. It’s a present and immediate necessity. The energy commission has identified this as a need. The city administrator had been queried how much it would take to get things off the ground: about $125,000. We can’t stop climate change with action in Ann Arbor, Taylor says, but the city must do its part. This is a step in that direction, he says.
11:06 p.m. Briere says that she thinks she knows what “community-facing” means, but asks Taylor to explain that. He says that much of the effort to date has been inward facing towards the city itself and its own buildings and vehicles. This would involve talking to residents and business owners, he says. Kunselman ventures that this would involve hiring a contractor. Powers indicates that’s right: It would involve going out for an RFP (request for proposals) to specify deliverables.
Kunselman says he’s not interested in hiring a consultant at this time. Lumm also indicates that she’s not supporting this, either. She indicates that it basically amounts to an additional position of some fashion.
11:07 p.m. Kailasapathy echoes Lumm’s sentiments – that she’ll support a different amendment, to hire an additional forester. She talks about “consultant fatigue.” She allows that global warming is real, and trees are a good solution to reducing greenhouse gases.
11:08 p.m. Anglin also indicates that he’d rather support something that involves trees – in our immediate environment.
11:12 p.m. Eaton also says he’d prefer to support the amendment on adding a forester. Hieftje says that the climate action program would be far more than what a forester would do. He points to the PACE program, which might have an impact on multifamily housing energy efficiency. This amendment could make a big difference, Hieftje says.
11:14 p.m. Briere asks if additional support is anticipated to be needed next year, or if by next fiscal year it would be self-supporting. He figures that nobody expects the forester position to become self-supporting. Powers says the goal of the climate action programs would be that they’d be self-supporting.
11:15 p.m. Eaton asks what this amendment actually does. Taylor says that there’s no reference to the FTE in the resolution. It’s not to hire an FTE. It’s anticipated that it would be a contractor.
11:19 p.m. Eaton asks if the city would start charging fees to make the program self-supporting. Powers says that he doesn’t have that level of detail tonight. Taylor ventures that there would be grant funding. In the future, if the economic climate improves, he hopes to be able to transition from a contractor to an FTE.
11:19 p.m. Hieftje asks that it move to a vote.
11:19 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment on 6-5 vote. Voting for it were Warpehoski, Teall, Petersen, Briere, Taylor and Hieftje.
11:20 p.m. Teall floats the idea of recessing the meeting until Tuesday, splitting the meeting into two parts. Brief discussion ensues but councilmembers decide they’ll push through the rest of the amendments.
11:21 p.m. Budget amendment: Police staffing – increase. This 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. The resolution would also reiterate a previous request made last year that the DDA fund three downtown beat cops. (Lumm, Eaton, Kailasapathy, Anglin)
11:21 p.m. Lumm is reviewing her reasons for wanting to increase the number of police officers by more than the three that the proposed budget calls for.
11:24 p.m. Lumm is arguing that the 15th District Court has not been as fiscally responsible as other departments. She’s proposing to fund a portion of the increased cost through a reduction in the court’s budget. She’s also anticipating additional money from the state through state shared revenue.
11:24 p.m. Hieftje is commenting on the idea of comparing the size of police departments in the 1980s and 1990s to current levels. He points to the 55 sworn officers that the University of Michigan now employs that did not previously exist.
11:27 p.m. Police departments were built up to respond in the past to increased levels of crime, he says. But now those levels have decreased. When police officer time is measured, Hieftje points out, they do have a lot of time available for proactive policing. He doesn’t want to put the budget under strain based on revenues that have not yet materialized. He returns to the point of decreasing crime numbers. He doesn’t understand why the goal would be to have a police force at the same level that the city did in a previous era.
11:29 p.m. Eaton says the city is fortunate to have police chief John Seto. Seto is not telling the council that the city has a crime problem, Eaton says. Seto has said the additional three officers are a “good start” toward accomplishing what Seto wants to do in terms of traffic enforcement and community engagement. Adding three officers does not take staffing levels back to the levels of the 1990s or even 2009, Eaton says. It’s an incremental step in the right direction.
11:32 p.m. Teall says she didn’t hear Seto say there were more police officers needed, but rather it was true that more could always be done. She won’t support this. Taylor says he won’t support this amendment, either. He’ll support the additional three police officers, but he rejects the idea that failing to support an additional two officers means a lack of priority on public safety. He points out that after pass-throughs, 57% of the city’s general fund goes to public safety.
11:35 p.m. Taylor is referring to an email from chief judge Libby Hines that rejected the idea that the 15th District Court was not a good steward of public money. The court administrator, Shryl Samborn, is at the podium. She’s talking about the ways the 15th District Court has reduced costs. More police officers means more citations, which would require more court clerks, she points out.
11:38 p.m. Lumm is responding to the court’s cost cutting, tracing the 7% and 9% and 4% general fund increases the court has shown. The court had authorized significant pay increases well above what other city employees had received, she says. Responding to the idea that UM officers should be factored into the equation, Lumm says the UM officers don’t see their job as policing the broader community. “They are not our backup,” she says.
11:41 p.m. Kunselman says that as much as he’d like to support it, he won’t support it. It’s important to work within the city administrator’s budget as much as possible. He’s not confident that the recurring revenues will actually be there, so he feels a little “queasy” about adding police officers. He says he had proposed no amendments, because he was very happy with the city administrator’s budget – because Powers had listened to the council about what it wanted to see.
11:44 p.m. Anglin says that there will be more police required as more people use public transportation. Warpehoski tries to move the council to a vote.
11:45 p.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on 4-7 vote. Voting for it were Lumm, Eaton, Anglin and Kailasapathy.
11:48 p.m. Budget amendment: Compost/leaf program – restore. This 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, Anglin)
11:48 p.m. Lumm notes that she’s brought forward this amendment the last two years and allows that people might be wondering: When will she give up? She says that she’d give up if she did not hear continually from residents that this is a service that they really use and expect the city to provide. She’s reciting the standard arguments in favor.
Petersen says that as much as she’d like to support this, she thinks that the city should not go back to the old way of doing things, because it was too inefficient. That’s not an appropriate way to restore the service. She mentions vacuum trucks as a possibility.
11:49 p.m. Hieftje says that leaves don’t come down on schedule. Cities across the state have moved away from the old way, he says. The current approach using containers is not perfect but it does work ok, he says.
11:53 p.m. Briere won’t support this restoration of fall leaf collection. She’s advocated for year-round composting because she thinks there are some years when leaves need to be set out after the first of December. Briere is recycling familiar arguments.
11:55 p.m. Lumm is arguing environmental points.
11:56 p.m. Lumm is using the Ann Arbor Newshawks in support of her argument for loose collection. She describes following a truck on its collection route.
11:58 p.m. Warpehoski raises a point of order on the length of Lumm’s speaking time.
12:00 a.m. Kunselman says he won’t support this. He’s not sure the solid waste fund reserve won’t be needed in the future. The last thing he wants to see is the solid waste millage go up. He doesn’t want to tinker with the city administrator’s budget.
12:01 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on 4-7 vote. Voting for it were Lumm, Eaton, Anglin and Kailasapathy.
12:01 a.m. Budget amendment: Retirement plan. This proposal directs 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. (Lumm, Kailasapathy)
12:02 a.m. Lumm is describing what this resolution does. She allows that she’s brought this up previously. But she laments the lack of progress. So she wants the council to give some direction that it supports this approach.
12:04 a.m. Kailasapathy is explaining the problem with defined benefit plans is that demographics have changed – life expectancy has increased.
12:08 a.m. Warpehoski says he’s voting against the resolution, but doesn’t want that vote to be understood as being against defined contribution plans. He says that the right venue for this kind of thing is negotiated at the table as labor contracts are developed. Lumm responds by saying it’s not a collective bargaining strategy. Nothing has happened in two years, she says. She says the council should provide direction as a council.
12:08 a.m. Teall says she doesn’t support this and so she’s not going to vote to it.
12:10 a.m. Warpehoski references a staff memo that supports his contention that this would impede the city’s general labor strategy. Staff had expressed their concerns about this approach. He’s chaffing under the implication from Lumm that he had not read the resolution, noting that he did read it.
12:13 a.m. Petersen and Powers are discussing how the council best should supply direction on this topic. They’re discussing closed sessions versus open sessions. Anglin says this doesn’t even seem like a budget amendment. It’s more like a general direction.
12:13 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on 3-8 vote. Voting for it were Lumm, Eaton, and Kailasapathy.
12:13 a.m. Policy direction: This proposal 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, Anglin)
12:16 a.m. Lumm is reviewing the content of the resolution.
12:16 a.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment on a unanimous vote. This prompts an “Oh, my god!” from Lumm.
12:16 a.m. Budget amendment: 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. (Petersen, Kailasapathy, Eaton, Anglin)
12:18 a.m. Petersen recites the content of the resolution. Lumm says she’ll support this amendment as a short-term solution. She’s prepared another amendment involving dog licenses that is meant to address the long-term issue.
12:18 a.m. Kunselman is getting clarification about the total amount that would wind up allocated for animal control – about $100,000.
12:22 a.m. Warpehoski says that when the city was dealing with the digital billboard ordinance, having an inventory of signs was noted as something that was important. So he’s torn about this amendment. Powers is explaining that the sign inventory is important and that’s why it’s in the budget. He can’t say exactly how urgent the work might be. Can it be deferred? Yes, says Powers. Warpehoski says he’ll support the amendment this year, but does want to see the inventory done.
Kunselman draws out the fact that the $75,000 would have been spent on a consultant. He’s not interested in supporting consultants.
12:24 a.m. Petersen, Lumm and Kunselman are doing some wordsmithing about what HSHV will be doing.
12:30 a.m. Hieftje wants to move along to a vote.
12:30 a.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment on a unanimous vote.
12:31 a.m. Budget amendment: Warming center. This proposal would allocate $100,000 from the affordable housing trust fund to provide assistance for a warming center. (Lumm, Briere)
12:33 a.m. Briere says that she can find past uses of the affordable housing fund that are consistent with this one. This does not cover 100% of the anticipated cost, but she wants to bring it forward now instead of waiting until October, because it’s possible to anticipate that there will be a winter.
12:34 a.m. Kunselman asks if the source of the funds is all general fund money. Briere explains that there were general fund transfers as well as proceeds from the sale of the former Y lot.
12:37 a.m. Kunselman says he’s not comfortable using money from an affordable housing fund. He’d support a general fund expenditure for that purpose. But he doesn’t think it’s wise to raid the fund for purposes other than providing affordable housing. Eaton says he’s also voting against it. When the council voted to put the net proceeds of the Y lot into the affordable housing fund, he’d been concerned that there weren’t clear criteria for use of the affordable housing trust fund. He calls for development of guidelines for use of funds from the affordable housing trust fund. He’s voting against this.
12:38 a.m. Hieftje says he’s torn on this. He’s concerned about the demand for warming shelter services for people who are not from Washtenaw County. The city needs to work with its partners to figure out how to continue to provide services to people from Washtenaw County. It’s premature to make a decision tonight, he says, because it should be based on a strategy worked out with partners.
12:39 a.m. Lumm is supporting this, and notes that Briere has worked with Mary Jo Callan and Ellen Schulmeister, executive director of the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County. There’s a need for additional capacity for a warming center.
12:41 a.m. Warpehoski says he’ll support the amendment, but with the same reservations that others have expressed. His understanding, however, is that allocations from the affordable housing trust fund need a recommendation from the housing & human services advisory board (HHSAB). Briere says that it’s legitimate for the council to take this action without the HHSAB recommendation. She believes that HHSAB would support it.
12:43 a.m. Taylor says that much of our services go to folks “who are not of us,” which leads to a slippery slope of not being able to serve the “local homeless.”
12:48 a.m. Taylor says that this is an issue that’s more complicated than what can be solved tonight.
12:48 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on a 5-6 vote. Voting for it were Kailasapathy, Briere, Petersen, Lumm, and Warpehoski.
12:48 a.m. Recess. We’re now in recess.
12:55 a.m. Teall is sitting in the mayor’s seat. Not clear if she’s going to take over for Hieftje when we resume. She’s fortifying herself with peanut M&Ms.
12:55 a.m. “Come on folks, let’s go!” says Teall.
12:56 a.m. Teall says we’re on schedule to be out by 4:15 a.m.
12:56 a.m. Budget amendment: 415 W. Washington demolition – pedestrian safety. This proposal would use some 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)
12:59 a.m. Briere says that the pedestrian task force would be funded in two ways – from the $75,000 set aside for a sidewalk gap elimination study and from part of the $300,000 set aside for the 415 W. Washington demolition. Powers confirms that Briere’s description of the way that project management staff are paid is accurate – in that they’re paid by project.
1:00 a.m. Eaton expresses puzzlement, saying he thought this pedestrian safety task force funding had been in front of the council and they’d postponed it, and that staff had identified all the required funding.
1:05 a.m. Craig Hupy, public services area administrator, is at the podium fielding questions from Kailasapathy. The $77,320 in the resolution is for the consultant on the pedestrian safety task force. Warpehoski reviews the history of how the consultant was selected. The task force is eager to have a positive impact on the community, he says. Current staff don’t have capacity to provide the task force support, he says. The task force has participated in the selection of the consultant (The Greenway Collaborative), he says.
1:05 a.m. Lumm is now commenting on the amendment. She’s reviewing how the funding works.
1:06 a.m. Mayor John Hieftje has departed the meeting, and Teall has been presiding over the meeting as mayor pro tem since returning from recess.
1:09 a.m. Kunselman says it seems like the council is picking on the 415 W. Washington demolition funds, when it’s been put of for several years. Powers says that there would need additional preparatory work to make an application to the historic district commission for the demolition.
1:11 a.m. “The building needs to come down,” Kunselman says. “This building is not going to be saved,” because it’s going to cost too much. In the meantime, it’s a blight in the neighborhood, across from the new Y building. It needs to be torn down and the city has been dragging its feet, he says. Now the council is stalling that effort, so he won’t support it.
1:12 a.m. Kailasapathy asks if the amendment can be split into two parts so that the $75,000 portion could be dragged forward from last year’s budget.
1:15 a.m. Briere says that the pedestrian task force was established through a unanimous vote of the council and now there’s an obligation to fund it. She’s continuing to argue by saying it’s important not to just give it lip service.
1:16 a.m. Teall agrees with Briere, saying the council has to support task forces that it establishes.
1:19 a.m. Kailasapathy cautions that she did not vote to sign a blank check when she voted for the establishment of the task force.
1:19 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment. [We are tentatively recording this as a 5-5 vote. Hieftje has left the meeting.]
1:20 a.m. Budget amendment: Compost/leaf program – extend. This 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. (Briere)
1:21 a.m. Briere is arguing for her proposal.
1:25 a.m. Petersen and Lumm question whether a reduction in tipping fees would actually be realized. Lumm says that if the city is going to spend $300,000 a year from the solid waste fund, it should be to pick up loose leaves.
1:25 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on a 3-7 vote. It got support from Taylor, Teall and Briere.
1:25 a.m. Budget amendment: 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, Anglin)
1:28 a.m. Kailasapathy says she’d like to dedicate all $80,000 to traffic calming, but she acknowledges that some councilmembers wanted to fund a transition for art. She’s hearing from her constituents that they want to see traffic calming but not transitional art administration funding. The art administrator can be hired for $40,000 and put efforts into private fund raising, she says.
1:29 a.m. Briere says that last year when she put forward additional money for traffic calming, she had been able to identify exactly what projects would be funded. This proposal is more conceptual, she says. She’d be more comfortable with it if it were more precise.
1:32 a.m. Briere questions whether this amendment is about adding money to traffic calming or “because it looks good.”
1:32 a.m. Lumm is supporting this.
1:35 a.m. Outcome: The council has rejected this amendment on a 4-6 vote. It got support from Kailasapathy, Lumm, Eaton, and Anglin.
1:35 a.m. Budget amendment: Streets – Alt Transportation. The proposal 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)
1:36 a.m. Briere had to be encouraged to bring this forward by Eaton, after she said she thought the council was by now going to split 5-5 on everything else (because Hieftje is no longer here). She summarizes why she wants to increase alternative transportation funding.
1:39 a.m. Lumm says she won’t support this because it draws down the general fund. Other councilmembers correct her.
1:39 a.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment over the dissent of Kunselman.
1:40 a.m. Budget amendment: 415 W. Washington demolition. This proposal would simply eliminate general fund support for demolition of the city-owned buildings at 415 W. Washington. (Kailasapathy, Lumm, Eaton, Anglin)
1:42 a.m. Kailasapathy says that she had proposed this in response to CFO Tom Crawford’s cautionary remarks from the May 12 work session about the level of the general fund reserves. She says that the money for demolition could be found in the parks maintenance and capital improvements millage, if the property is added to the PROS plan.
1:45 a.m. Briere talks about the amount of process that would need to be engaged in before deciding that it would become a park. She didn’t think it was realistic to demolish the building before the spring of next year. Lumm says this “hits pause” on the demolition of 415 W. Washington to see if alternatives to the general fund can be found to pay for it.
1:48 a.m. Lumm is noting that the open space preservation millage might be a source of funds. Kunselman says he doesn’t support using parks money for a general fund type building. The building needs to come down, he says. It might not come down until next spring, but the money needs to be appropriated at this meeting. The building is an eyesore and is not in any way historic, he says. He won’t support the amendment. He’ll encourage the staff to move ahead in the coming months on getting the building torn down.
1:50 a.m. Anglin is talking about the costs that would be involved in preserving the building. Artists had talked about possibly using it as an art center. It had been studied, he says, and he doesn’t know where the idea came from to demolish the building. The council had not yet heard from the historic district commission, he says.
1:54 a.m. Anglin says there’s an opportunity in this building to make the art community feel welcome. Teall also questions where the idea came from to demolish the building. Briere says that the council had directed the study of the feasibility of preserving the building and the final report had come back. The result of that report was a conclusion that it would take about $3 million to stabilize the building and another $3 million to renovate it. That’s where the notion of demolishing the building came from.
1:54 a.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment over the dissent of Kunselman, Taylor and Warpehoski.
1:55 a.m. Budget amendment: Dog licenses. This proposal would encourage educational and enforcement efforts to increase the 7% compliance rate for dog licenses, which currently generates $15,000 in revenue. The resolution states that Ann Arbor is home to 30,000 dogs and that a 50% license compliance rate would result in $105,000 in revenue. But the resolution targets a 30% compliance rate for the shorter term, which would bring in a total of about $63,000. The resolution alters the revenue budget to reflect that amount. The resolution indicates that at least a portion of the additional $48,000 would go toward payment for animal services provided to the city by the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
1:57 a.m. Lumm characterizes this as an effort to identify a recurring source of revenue for animal control. “We have a lot of dogs in Ann Arbor,” she says. It’s thought that Ann Arbor is home to about 30,000 dogs, she says. A 50% compliance rate would generate about $120,000 annually, she says. Currently the compliance rate is only about 7%, she says.
2:01 a.m. Teall asks about increased enforcement and how that would be done. Powers indicated that it would initially be a matter of raising awareness of the requirement. Only about 2,000 dogs are licensed in Ann Arbor. One of the benefits of having a license for your dog is being able to use the city’s dog parks.
2:02 a.m. Briere has no problem with the idea of focusing on enforcement, but is uncomfortable with making it a budget amendment, because it might assume revenues that might not materialize.
2:03 a.m. Briere wonders if it might be possible not to include such a “confident” allocation.
2:05 a.m. Powers says he’ll likely be bringing an agreement between the county and the city that would be the conduit by which HSHV would be paid. Briere says the 30% compliance rate seems ambitious. Petersen asks about a dog census to help compliance. Powers indicates there’s a statutory requirement for a dog census.
2:06 a.m. Warpehoski wants to vote.
2:07 a.m. Lumm reports that she’s talked to the director of the HSHV, and HSHV sees this as a baby step. She says having 23% greater compliance does not set the bar too high. It’s good for pets and pet owners, she says.
2:09 a.m. Taylor says he’d observed that the council was talking about police officers enforcing dog licenses, when previously some councilmembers had objected to the idea of police officers enforcing an outdoor smoking ordinance. Taylor doesn’t object to either kind of enforcement.
2:11 a.m. Kunselman asks police chief Seto if an animal control officer is needed. Kunselman says there’ve been problems in his neighborhood. Seto notes that every police officer is authorized as an animal control officer. That service is probably not provided as well as when there was a dedicated animal control officer, he says. He notes that the city now works with the county on animal control.
2:12 a.m. Outcome: The council has unanimously approved this amendment.
2:12 a.m. Budget amendment: Parks fairness. This is a standard amendment every year to ensure that the parks budget is increased to match any increase in general fund expenditures in other areas.
2:14 a.m. The parks budget needs to be increased by $23,577 as a result of the budget amendments that were previously approved.
2:15 a.m. Teall says she has reservations about it as a practical matter, but wants to go ahead and vote.
2:15 a.m. Outcome: The council has approved this amendment over the sole dissent from Teall.
2:16 a.m. The council is now on the main question of the FY 2015 budget.
2:17 a.m. Lumm says that she didn’t support last year’s budget because it didn’t make progress toward public safety as an area of priority. But this year’s budget does that with the addition of three police officers, she says. So she’s supporting the budget.
2:17 a.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to adopt the FY 2015 budget as amended.
2:18 a.m. Clerk’s report of communications, petitions and referrals. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the clerk’s report.
2:18 a.m. Public comment. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
2:24 a.m. Seth Best is addressing the council. He thanks Anglin for mentioning Camp Take Notice. He invites people to drop by 3501 Stone School Road to visit. He was disappointed with the outcome on the warming center resolution. He was also troubled about the distinction between county residents and non-county residents with respect to the provision of services. He reminds the council of the inscription from the Statue of Liberty.
2:24 a.m. Kai Petainen says he’s not upset about the SPARK amendments, but he’s kind of annoyed by SPARK. They’d shown up to the meeting without answers to the council’s questions, he says. His complaint is about how SPARK treated the council and the public. They weren’t prepared for tonight’s meeting, he says, and thereby demonstrated arrogance and ignorance. He said he doubted that if SPARK didn’t get the $75,000 it would cause companies to leave town.
2:24 a.m. Closed session. Outcome: The council has voted to go into closed session to consider pending litigation.
2:32 a.m. They’re back in open session.
2:32 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.
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