Stories indexed with the term ‘2013 elections’

Ann Arbor Election Day: Nov. 5, 2013

As we have for the past few years, The Chronicle will be touring Ann Arbor polling stations on Election Day and providing updates throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

This Election Day reminder is not intended to imply even indirectly a willingness by the University of Michigan athletic department to provide a slot in the marquee’s message rotation for city of Ann Arbor public service announcements.

This Photoshopped Election Day reminder is not intended to imply even indirectly a willingness by the University of Michigan athletic department to provide a slot in the marquee’s message rotation for city of Ann Arbor public service announcements.

This year voters in the general election will be confronted with two issues – a city council race and the Ann Arbor Public Schools sinking fund millage. Ann Arbor city council seats have contested races in all five wards, but not all official candidates are on the ballot. Three candidates have filed as write-ins.

Voters in Ward 1 will see three names on the ballot: incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere, independent Jeff Hayner and independent Jacyln Vresics. Vresics has withdrawn from the race, but did not make that decision soon enough to prevent her name from appearing on the ballot.

Voters in Ward 2 will choose between incumbent independent Jane Lumm, Democrat Kirk Westphal and independent Conrad Brown.

In Ward 3, voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman and independent Sam DeVarti.

Ward 4 Democratic primary winner Jack Eaton, who prevailed against incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins, does not face an opponent on the ballot. However, William Lockwood has filed as a write-in candidate for Ward 4.

Incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin was unchallenged in the Ward 5 primary, and does not have an opponent on the ballot for the general election. However, Thomas Partridge and Chip Smith are declared write-in candidates.

Not sure where to vote? To find your polling place and view a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Check back here throughout the day for briefs filed from the field, or add a comment with your own Election Day observations. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Campaign Finance 2013

Candidates in Ann Arbor city council races have so far raised a combined total of more than $50,000 in contributions for the general election to be held on Nov. 5, 2013. The $20,875 raised by Ward 2 independent incumbent Jane Lumm made her total about twice as much as any other candidate. That included Ward 2 Democratic challenger Kirk Westphal, who raised $10,103 during the pre-election campaign period, which ended Oct. 20.

All Candidates

Dots correspond to addresses that made contributions to Ann Arbor city council candidates for the Nov. 5, 2013 election.

Lumm’s fundraising effort during the pre-election phase exceeded her total from 2011 when she contested the general election with incumbent Democrat Stephen Rapundalo. That year she raised $18,950 from 193 donors.

The third Ward 2 candidate, Conrad Brown, filed a reporting waiver, which is allowed if a candidate does not expect to raise more than $1,000.

Ward 1 incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere raised $11,800 in a race where she’s challenged by independent Jeff Hayner, who has raised $2,680 so far.

In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman, who survived a tough primary race with Julie Grand, did not raise any additional money during this most recent filing period. Kunselman’s independent challenger Sam DeVarti raised $945.

In Ward 5, Mike Anglin does not have an opponent on the ballot, but raised $4,299 in this most recent period. He’s spent $1,340 of that. In addition to Thomas Partridge, who declared his write-in candidacy much earlier in the year, Charles “Chip” Smith has just recently filed his paperwork to declare a write-in candidacy for the Ward 5 seat that’s up for election this year. Responding to an emailed query, Smith said he will try to keep his expenditures under the reporting-waiver limit of $1,000.

In Ward 4, Jack Eaton does not face any opponents on Nov. 5 on the ballot or as write-ins, but does have a write-in opponent in William Lockwood. Eaton won the Democratic primary against incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins.

The Ann Arbor city council includes a total of 11 members – two from each of the city’s five wards and the mayor. All city council positions are elected for two-year terms, with one of the wards’s seats up for election every year. The position of mayor is elected in even years, so not this year.

The filings, which were due on Oct. 25, are available through the Washtenaw County clerk’s searchable campaign finance database. Charts and maps by The Chronicle are presented after the jump. [Full Story]

Charles “Chip” Smith to File as Ward 5 Write-In

Voters in Ann Arbor’s Ward 5 city council election on Nov. 5, 2013 will have a choice of an additional write-in candidate: Charles “Chip” Smith. The Ward 5 resident set up a Write in Chip Facebook page announcing his candidacy on Oct. 23.

The deadline for filing a declaration of write-in candidacy is Oct. 25. Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Smith indicated he plans to file the necessary paperwork this afternoon, on Oct. 24.

Smith is a municipal planner in Wade Trim’s environmental design and planning group. He holds a masters degree in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan. [More background on ArborWiki]

Already filed as a write-in candidate for Ward 5 is Thomas Partridge. The only … [Full Story]

Liberty & Maynard

Ran into Jeff Hayner, Ward 1 independent candidate for Ann Arbor city council, who was having campaign flyers printed at the FedEx store. He notes that he’s getting his campaign postcards printed separately, by a union shop.

2013 General Election: Absentee Ballot First Wave

Based on data provided by the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office, by the end of the day on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at least 1,698 absentee ballots will have been mailed to voters who requested such ballots for the Nov. 5, 2013 general election.

On the ballot for Ann Arbor residents are two items: (1) city council races; and (2) continuation of the Ann Arbor Public Schools sinking fund millage.

A precise breakdown of absentee ballots by ward is difficult, because some of the combined precincts in the election cross wards. However, at least 380 of the first wave of ballots will be sent to residents of Ward 2, which will be a carefully watched race. That’s a contest between independent incumbent … [Full Story]

Vresics Won’t Campaign for Ward 1 Seat

An email sent to media by Mixed Use Party co-chair Will Leaf late Sept. 2, 2013 indicates that University of Michigan student Jaclyn Vresics has announced she won’t be contesting the Ward 1 Ann Arbor city council race this fall. Reached by text message Vresics confirmed her intention to withdraw from the race.

Vresics had qualified for the ballot by submitting more than the 100 required nominating signatures by the Aug. 7 deadline. However, the deadline for withdrawing formally from the race has passed, according to city clerk Jackie Beaudry.

According to Secretary of State documents the deadline to withdraw is Aug. 12, 2013, or three business days after the Aug. 7 filing deadline. So her name will still appear on … [Full Story]

Braun Court

Ward 1 city council race comes to the \aut\ BAR with campaign sign for Sabra Briere. [Proper calculation of Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority tax increment finance capture is currently on the council's agenda. Co-manager of \aut\ BAR, Keith Orr, is a member of the DDA board.]

Third & William

Campaign sign in Ward 5 for Jeff Hayner, a Ward 1 independent candidate for city council. [photo]

Eaton, Kunselman Prevail in Primaries

In Democratic primaries for Ann Arbor city council seats held on Tuesday, incumbent Stephen Kunselman polled 65 more votes than challenger Julie Grand, which translated into a 3.5-point margin.

Kunselman’s win was relatively narrow compared to the 29-point spread in the Ward 4 race between Jack Eaton and incumbent Marcia Higgins. That margin translated into 559 more votes for Eaton.


Results map. Ward 4 precincts won by Eaton are in blue shaded by strength of support. Precincts won by Higgins are in red. Ward 3 precincts won by Kunselman are in purple, shaded by strength of support. Precincts won by Grand are in green.

Totals and percents in Ward 3: Kunselman received 927 votes (51.8%) and Grand received 862 votes (48.2%).

Totals and percents in Ward 4: Eaton received 1,233 votes (64.6%) and Higgins received 674 votes (35.3%).

Complete unofficial results with various cuts of the data are available on the Washtenaw County clerk’s election results website.

Voter turnout was 9.24% in Ward 3 and 9.58% in Ward 4.

Of the city’s five wards, those were the only two primaries that were contested. No Republican candidates filed this year. The council consists of two representatives from each ward plus the mayor for a total of 11 members. Councilmembers serve two-year terms, so every year one of the seats is up for election. This is not a mayoral election year.

With Kunselman’s victory in the primary, it sets up the possibility of a Democratic primary race in 2014 between the sitting councilmember Kunselman and incumbent mayor John Hieftje. Kunselman has said that if Hieftje seeks an eighth term, he’d run against him.

But Kunselman will need to get past the Nov. 5 general election in Ward 3, when he’ll face independent Sam DeVarti. DeVarti is a UM student, and son of long-time Kunselman supporter Dave DeVarti – who’s a former councilmember and former Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member. Add in the fact that Kunselman’s wife Letitia and the younger DeVarti are co-workers at the Northside Grill and it points to a campaign that’s more likely to be waged on respectful than on bitter terms.

Other races now basically set for the fall include possibly a three-way race between incumbent Ward 1 Democrat Sabra Briere and independents Jeff Hayner and Jaclyn Vresics. As of the end of the day on Aug. 6, the city clerk was still in the process of verifying signatures for Vresics in advance of the Aug. 7 deadline.

In Ward 2, incumbent independent Jane Lumm will face challenges from Democrat Kirk Westphal (who was unopposed in the Aug. 6 primary) and independent Conrad Brown. Of the city council races in the fall, the Ward 2 race is likely to draw the most interest citywide.

In Ward 4, Eaton will almost certainly not face a challenger on November’s ballot. In Ward 5, incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin will likely be the only choice presented to voters.

In this report we provide some additional detail on the Ward 3 and Ward 4 primary result maps. [Full Story]

Council Race: Ward 4 Final Results (Unofficial)

Some initial informal and unofficial results are starting to come in from the Democratic primary for the Ward 4 Ann Arbor city council race – between incumbent Marcia Higgins and Jack Eaton.

With results from 1 of 8 in-person polling locations informally reported, Eaton has received 172 votes (58.3%) and Higgins has received 123 votes (41.7%). The location reporting results is the combined 4-4 & 4-8 precinct. Based on results from previous years, Eaton would have not expected to poll as strong in those precincts as in 4-7 and 4-9.

This brief will be updated as more results are reported.

Update at 8:37 p.m. With results from 7 of 8 in-person polling locations informally reported, as well as absent voter totals from all precincts … [Full Story]

Fall Ann Arbor Council Races Take Form

Attention in Ann Arbor city council elections is currently focused on Tuesday’s Aug. 6 primary races in Ward 3 and Ward 4. But races in other wards – to be contested by some independent candidates – are starting to take clearer shape in advance of the Aug. 7 filing deadline.

Joining Ward 1 incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere on the Nov. 5 general election ballot will be independent Jeff Hayner. Briere is unopposed in the Democratic primary and no Republican candidate filed to run – in Ward 1 or in any other of the city’s five wards. According to city clerk’s office records, Hayner took out nominating petitions on July 3, submitted them on Aug. 2, and they were certified by the … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Council Dems 2013: Finance

A preliminary analysis of pre-primary campaign finance reports for the two contested races in the Aug. 6, 2013 Ann Arbor city council Democratic primary shows a total of $29,230 in cash was raised by the four candidates combined, with the average cash contributor donating a bit over $128.

2013 Ann Arbor Democratic Primary City Council Campaign Contributions: All Candidates

2013 Ann Arbor Democratic primary city council campaign contributions: All candidates. (Map by The Chronicle based on data from the Washtenaw County clerk’s office.) Maps by candidate are included after the jump.

The deadline for filing pre-primary reports was July 26, for the period ending July 21.

Voters in the Democratic primary for Ward 3 will choose between incumbent Stephen Kunselman and Julie Grand as the Democratic candidate to appear on the November city council ballot. Grand raised the most cash of any candidate, getting donations from 68 contributors averaging about $160 apiece for a total of $10,825.

Kunselman raised $5,855 from 54 contributors. While that’s roughly half what Grand raised, it’s about twice what he received in the pre-primary period in 2011 ($2,750). That was a three-way race between himself, Ingrid Ault and Marwan Issa. The average contribution to Kunselman’s campaign this year was about $110.

In Ward 4, voters will choose between incumbent Marcia Higgins and Jack Eaton. Fourteen-year incumbent Higgins raised the least cash of any candidate, receiving $4,592 from 26 contributors for an average donation of $177.

Eaton raised $7,958 from 82 different contributors for an average donation of $97. That’s the greatest number of individual contributors of any candidate. Eaton’s total this time around is about twice as much as he raised for the same period in 2012 ($4,305), when he ran a close but ultimately unsuccessful race against incumbent Margie Teall.

Of the 228 total contributors for all four candidates (including those who contributed to more than one campaign), The Chronicle counted at least 57 contributions (25%) from people who are either current or past elected or appointed officials – including appointees to committees. Those contributions were evenly distributed across candidates: Eaton (16); Higgins (13); Grand (14); Kunselman (14).

Some current councilmembers have lent their financial support to candidates. Ward 4 challenger Jack Eaton is supported financially by Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2). Incumbent Marcia Higgins has financial support from her wardmate Margie Teall as well as mayor John Hieftje.

Ward 3 incumbent Stephen Kunselman is also supported financial by Anglin and Lumm. Julie Grand has received contributions from Higgins and Teall.

Current and past campaign filing documents can be searched and retrieved from the Washtenaw County clerk’s web page. [.pdf of Grand's statements] [.pdf of Eaton's statements] [.pdf of Higgins' statements] [.pdf of Kunselman's statements]

Other coverage of the campaigns is categorized in The Chronicle as “2013 primary election.”

Presented below are charts of contribution counts, broken down by size of contribution, as well as maps showing the geographic distribution of contributions. [Full Story]

Ward 3 Dem Primary: Kunselman or Grand

On Aug. 6, 2013, voters in the Democratic primary for Ward 3 will choose between incumbent Stephen Kunselman and Julie Grand as the Democratic candidate to appear on the November city council ballot.

Julie Grand and Stephen Kunselman are preserved by Ann Arbor Observer photographer Adrian Wylie before the start of the League of Women Voters forum held on July 10, 2013.

Julie Grand and Stephen Kunselman are posing for Ann Arbor Observer photographer Adrian Wylie before the start of the League of Women Voters forum held on July 10, 2013. (Photos by the writer.)

Each of the city’s five wards is represented with two seats on the 11-member council, which includes the mayor. Every year, one of the two seats is up for election – as the terms for council seats are two years.

Both Ward 3 candidates participated in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on July 10. The complete video recording of the forum, conducted at Community Television Network’s studios on South Industrial, is available online through CTN’s Video on Demand.

Questions fielded by Grand and Kunselman included topics like transportation, downtown Ann Arbor, relations with the University of Michigan, public safety, alternative energy, and interactions between councilmembers and residents.

Kunselman is serving his third term on the council, having first been elected in 2006. He did not win re-election in 2008, when Christopher Taylor prevailed in the Democratic primary that year. Kunselman was returned by voters to a seat the following year, and was then re-elected in 2011. Kunselman’s campaigns – this year and in the past – have stressed his commitment to middle- and lower-income neighborhoods located farther away from the center of the city, such as his own neighborhood in the Springwater subdivision south of Packard and east of Buhr Park.

Grand, who lives a block away from Taylor in the Burns Park neighborhood, has served since 2007 on the city’s park advisory commission and is currently chair of that group. Kunselman served on the council when her nomination to PAC was confirmed. Grand’s campaign has stressed that she is a good communicator and seeks consensus, without needing to be the loudest voice.

Until the July 10 LWV forum, the contrast Grand drew between herself and Kunselman with respect to communicative style had been implicit. At the LWV forum, however, she made her criticism explicit, using her closing remarks to accuse Kunselman of focusing “on creating problems rather than solving them.” She also claimed that Kunselman had admitted that he didn’t come prepared to council meetings.

Grand responded to an email query from The Chronicle by indicating that she’d based her contention about an admission by Kunselman on her memory of a June 8 Democratic Party forum. Included in this Chronicle coverage of the LWV forum is a partial transcript of an audio recording from that June 8 event.

This report also presents responses by Grand and Kunselman to questions at the July 10 LWV forum, grouped more by theme than by chronology. [Full Story]

Column: Time for Non-Partisan Elections

At a recent forum for Democratic primary candidates for the Ann Arbor city council, Ward 5 incumbent Mike Anglin expressed a generally positive outlook about the direction the council and the city are headed. But Anglin did not have praise for the level of participation in primary elections: “Our turnout in a primary election is devastatingly low. It’s embarrassingly low. And our community cannot be proud of that at all.”

non-partisan elections, elephant, donkey, lame ducks

This graphic was poached from a column written for The Chronicle last year by former city attorney Bruce Laidlaw – advocating for non-partisan elections. Laidlaw’s argument was based in part on the idea that it reduces the potential for lame ducks. It might also encourage more competition and participation. (Image links to Laidlaw’s column.)

How bad is it? The August 2012 Democratic primary featured contested races in four of the city’s five wards – with voter turnout ranging from a high of 13.9% in Ward 5 to a low of 8.2% in Ward 1.

In Wards 1 and 4, the winner received less than 1,000 votes. That compared to a citywide turnout of 56.2% in the November 2012 mayor’s race.

What about the Republican primary? If you’re not familiar with Ann Arbor politics, that’s a punch line.

Only in Ward 5 did voters have a choice of city council candidates in November 2012 – Republican Stuart Berry or Democrat Chuck Warpehoski. And 62% of the ward’s voters turned out to choose Warpehoski – by a wide margin. In the other wards, the decision had already been made – in August, by fewer than 10% of registered voters in those wards. In Ward 3, no candidate stepped forward as an alternative to incumbent Democrat Christopher Taylor, in either the primary or the general election.

While Anglin recently lamented the lack of participation in the Democratic primary, I don’t think that exhorting residents to vote on Aug. 6 is likely to bump participation to anywhere near the level we might see in November. So the decisions about who represents Ann Arbor residents on the city council will likely again this year be made when less of the electorate will head to the polls – in August, not November.

But Ward 2 will be a definite exception. That’s because voters will choose between two formidable candidates in November: Democrat Kirk Westphal (unopposed in the primary) and incumbent Jane Lumm, who’s indicated she’ll again be campaigning as an independent. They might be joined by independent Conrad Brown, if he submits enough signatures by the August deadline.  Still, in Ward 2, there’s no question the choice will be made in November, not August.

In Wards 1, 3 and 4, other independent candidates affiliated with a University of Michigan student group calling itself the Mixed Use Party have taken out petitions. None have yet filed the required signatures. But to the extent they prove to be serious candidates, voters in those wards might also feel they were offered a legitimate choice in November.

But when three legitimate candidates take out petitions, why are we forcing a selection between just two of them – precisely at a time of year when few voters turn up at the polls to make that selection?

Take Ward 3 as an example. Julie Grand, current chair of the city’s park advisory commission, and incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman are solid choices. They’ll be offered to voters in August. Only one will advance to the November general election. And as voters get to know him, independent Sam DeVarti – if he files his nominating petitions – could also prove to be another solid choice in November.

If they’re all three credible candidates, I think a more rational approach to an August primary would be to use that initial election to winnow the field of all three (or more) candidates down to two. That way the important choice, between the two finalists, would come in November, when more voters participate. Or all the candidates could be offered to voters in November, with no primary election at all.

It’s fairly common now for a city council election to draw only two candidates, both Democrats, who compete in August. If there’s no other candidate in the race at all, it would be more rational to offer those same two candidates to voters in November, when many more voters participate.

That kind of rational approach to candidate choice would be possible if Ann Arbor city council elections were non-partisan.

But under the city charter, Ann Arbor city council elections are conducted on a partisan basis.

Last year around this time, former city attorney Bruce Laidlaw wrote two op-eds for The Chronicle, the first explaining the historical background for Ann Arbor’s partisan system, and the second making a case for changing the city charter to provide for non-partisan elections.

There seems to be at least some interest this year in moving the idea forward. One indication came in a response to a recent Ward 2 resident satisfaction survey. An open-ended question asked respondents to identify the one issue that councilmembers should focus on in the next six months. Among the question’s many responses was this one: “Implement a non-partisan election process for city council and mayor.”

A question about non-partisan elections also was posed this week to Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje, who spoke at a Rotary Club lunch. [Full Story]

August 6 City Council Primary Races Set

Now that the 4 p.m. May 14 deadline has passed for filing nominating petitions, the Ann Arbor city council races for the Aug. 6, 2013 primaries are set. Only Democratic primaries will be contested, and they’ll be held in just two of the city’s five wards – Ward 3 and Ward 4. No Republicans filed nominating petitions. In the fall, at least five possible independent candidates could appear on ballots citywide, counting Ward 2 incumbent Jane Lumm.

In Ward 1, incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere, who’ll be seeking her fourth two-year term, will be unopposed in the Democratic primary. She could face independent Jaclyn Vresics in the November general election, if Vresics files at least 100 valid signatures by Aug. 7. Vresics is … [Full Story]

Stadium & Brockman

Tappan Middle School: After conclusion of a public meeting on the study of wet weather flows in the city’s sanitary sewer system, Jack Eaton collects signatures for his petition to become a candidate in the Democratic primary election for Ann Arbor city council in Ward 4. (Marcia Higgins is the incumbent up for election.) Ward 4 representative Margie Teall has an off-year for election; she attended the meeting. Also in attendance: Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and city administrator Steve Powers.

Eaton Pulls Petitions for Ward 4 City Council

Jack Eaton has taken out petitions to contest the 2013 Democratic primary election in Ward 4 for the Ann Arbor city council. City clerk records show that he took out the petitions on April 17. Eaton is a labor attorney. Over the last several years, he’s been actively involved in advocating for neighborhoods.

Jack Eaton talked to Ward 2 councilmember Jane Lumm before the councils April 15, 2013  meeting started.

Jack Eaton talked to Ward 2 councilmember Jane Lumm before the council’s April 15, 2013 meeting started.

Ward 4 incumbent Marcia Higgins, who’s served on the council for over a decade, took out petitions on Dec. 31, 2012.

Higgins and Eaton will need to file their petitions with at least 100 valid signatures by the May 14 deadline.

Eaton has contested the Democratic primary election twice in recent years, both times against incumbent Margie Teall. In the August 2012 Democratic primary, the race was close enough to require a recount, as Eaton and Teall received 846 and 866 votes, respectively. That was the total after a recount of the ballots. The 2010 primary race was not as close, when Eaton polled 642 (30.63%) to Teall’s 1,448 (69.08%). [Full Story]

DDA OKs Budgets, Gets Downtown Report

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Feb. 6, 2013): The meeting of the full DDA board reprised much of the same content of the operations committee meeting two weeks earlier, which focused on the organization’s budgets for the next two fiscal years. The board voted to approve budgets for FY 2014 and FY 2015.

Leah Gunn, chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board.

Leah Gunn, chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. (Photos by the writer.)

For FY 2014, the DDA budget calls for $23.1 million in expenditures against $23.4 million in revenues. That would add about $300,000 to the total fund balance reserve, which is projected to end FY 2014 fiscal at around $5.5 million. The surplus from FY 2014 would be used in the FY 2015 budget, which calls for $23.8 million in expenditures against $23.5 in revenues, leaving the DDA with about $5.2 million in total fund balance reserve at the end of FY 2015. Reserve amounts indicated in the budget are about $800,000 more than the “true fund balance” – because the money lent to the DDA by Republic Parking for installation of new equipment is recorded as revenue.

Some of the larger categories of expenses in the $23.1 million expense budget for FY 2014, which is similar to FY 2015, are: payments to Republic Parking for operating the public parking system ($6.5 million); bond payments and interest ($6.6 million); payments to the city of Ann Arbor ($3 million in parking revenue and $500,000 for the police/courts facility); capital costs ($2 million); administration ($800,000); and alternative transportation ($615,000).

The alternative transportation allocation would fall a bit short of covering this year’s $623,662 request from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to support the getDowntown program, which includes a subsidy to cover the cost of rides taken with the go!pass. That compares with $553,488 granted by the DDA last year to support getDowntown. A presentation made previously to the operations committee – by Michael Ford, CEO of the AATA, and Nancy Shore, director of the getDowntown program – was also given to the full board at the Feb. 6 meeting. The presentation highlighted the fact that 31% of go!pass riders get on the bus east of US-23.

Money in the budget labeled “discretionary” could cover the gap between AATA’s request and the amount in the budget slated for alternative transportation. That money is one of a number of “placeholder” items included in the budget – like $250,000 for a possible arrangement with the city of Ann Arbor for additional police patrols in the downtown. Another $300,000 could be used for a range of capital projects – from sidewalk improvements for patio dining in the State Street area, to streetscape improvements for William Street, to alley improvements near the Bell Tower Hotel.

The board did not discuss remarks made earlier in the week by Ward 3 city councilmember Stephen Kunselman, who at the council’s Feb. 4 meeting called for a number of changes to the city’s DDA ordinance. If enacted, the changes could have a significant impact on the DDA’s revenue from its tax increment finance (TIF) budget. Of the DDA’s roughly $23 million revenue budget, about $4 million comes from TIF capture, with the remainder coming from the public parking system.

The DDA board meeting featured public commentary from Alan Haber, a self-described “agitator” for a public park on top of the Library Lane underground parking garage, and a briefing from Ray Detter, chair of the downtown citizens advisory council, on the status of the 413 E. Huron project. The previous evening, that proposed residential project had failed to achieve the six votes it needed for a planning commission recommendation of approval. The project is still expected to be brought to the city council for consideration, possibly on March 18.

The board was also presented with this year’s edition of the DDA’s “State of the Downtown” report, which summarizes a number of statistics about the DDA district. [Full Story]