Stories indexed with the term ‘city of ann arbor’

Ann Arbor Postpones Human Services Cuts

For fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011, the Ann Arbor city council voted unanimously at its May 2, 2011 meeting to postpone $1,159,029 in support for nonprofits that provide human services in the city. The amount reflects a 9% reduction from FY 2011. The council hopes to identify a way to make up that gap between now and its next meeting, when it approves the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The city’s support for human services is allocated in coordination with other agencies: United Way of Washtenaw county ($1,677,000), Washtenaw County ($1,015,000) and Washtenaw Urban County ($363,154).

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Column: Limited Edition

In my favorite movie “Animal House,” John Belushi delivers a classic line: “Over? Nothing is over until we say it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no, and it ain’t over now!”

With the same level of determination and a lot more smarts, 700 members of AFSCME Local 2733 and members of six other smaller bargaining units gave back contract benefits totaling about $6.6 million to help reduce Washtenaw County’s projected 2010-11 budget deficit. I have lived in Ann Arbor 49 years and do not recall a similar circumstance. Were county services over? Were the jobs of up to 150 union members over? The Locals said “Hell, no.”

It was a big deal. [Full Story]

FOIA Update: Printed vs. Electronic Records

attempted redaction with magic marker that says out of public discussionattempted redaction with magic marker that says out of public discussion

Example of attempted redaction of printed electronic record with magic marker by the city of Ann Arbor.

As we reported in connection with a recent column analyzing the possible legal and ethical implications of email exchanges among Ann Arbor city councilmembers, The Chronicle requested additional email records from the city.

Our purpose in requesting additional records was to explore more fully the workings of the city council as reflected in emailed communications – and to compare that with the public deliberations at the council table. That public discourse is something we already describe in a fair amount of detail in our meeting reports. [Full Story]

Drain Disconnect Time for Homeowners

No one attending last month’s public meeting at Lawton Elementary looked happy to be there. Nor were they happy about the prospect of holes being dug in their basement and front yard. “My wife and I have lived in our house 30 years and never had a drop of water in the basement,” one man said. “Do I really need this?”

Someone from Mrs. Szalays kindergarten class made this drawing. The facial expression reflected the sentiment of some homeowners at a public meeting last month, held at xx Elementary.

Someone from Mrs. Szalay's kindergarten class at Lawton Elementary made this drawing, which hung in the school's hallway last month on the night of a public meeting at Lawton's gym. The picture's facial expression reflected the sentiment of some homeowners who attended.

“This” is a citywide program to disconnect the footing drains in all houses from the sanitary sewer system. And the answer to his question is “yes” – because the city mandates it.

Much like the sidewalk replacement program, the effort to disconnect footing drains will span several years. But unlike the sidewalk replacement, which homeowners must pay for, the city is reimbursing costs of the drain disconnect – at least for now.

The program started in 2001 as a way to deal with chronic sewer backups in basements of some residential neighborhoods, caused during storms when stormwater would flood that sewer system. In older homes, footing drains – which are designed to divert ground water away from a house’s foundation – were often connected to the sanitary sewer system. With heavy rains, the system didn’t have the capacity to handle the additional rainwater. Sewage would back up into basements through floor drains. It wasn’t pretty [Full Story]

City Starts Thinking About Counting Carbon

carbon credits management

Alfredo Nicastro, vice president of MGM International, described a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions at the March 26 meeting of the Ann Arbor environmental commission.

At last Thursday’s regular meeting of the Ann Arbor environmental commission, Alfredo Nicastro of MGM International gave a sales presentation for his company’s services – which served an educational opportunity about carbon credits, and the possibility of the future “compliance market” in the U.S. based on a cap-and-trade system. It was also an opportunity for environmental commissioners to start thinking about the impact of such a market system on the city of Ann Arbor.

In broad strokes, here’s how a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions – greenhouse gases – might work. The U.S. would set an overall limit – a cap – on the amount of a gas that can be emitted. Companies and other organizations, including entities like the city of Ann Arbor, would be issued permits (allowances, or credits) to emit a certain amount of carbon. The sum of all the emissions allowed by the permits would not exceed the amount specified in the cap. All organizations would have to comply with the requirement that they hold emission allowances at least equal to the amount of carbon they emit. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor DDA Ponders Response to City

“I’m confused,” she said. “Well,” he replied, “you need to work out your own confusion!”

That conversational exchange is unlikely to occur when a proposed parking customer service phone line goes live. The plan for the phone service was conveyed to the Downtown Development Authority’s operations committee by DDA deputy director, Joe Morehouse, at the committee’s meeting this past Wednesday.

But it’s exactly the back-and-forth that unfolded between board chair Jennifer Hall and board member Russ Collins during the operations committee meeting. The seeming exasperation conveyed by Collins came well into a discussion that had started before his arrival at the meeting. [Full Story]

Column: Survey Says, “Help Us Design One”


The second mailing of the National Research Center

The second mailing of the National Research Center's city of Ann Arbor 2008 Citizen Survey.

The Chronicle was among 3,000 Ann Arbor households that have received three pieces of mail over the last couple of weeks sent on behalf of the city of Ann Arbor by the National Research Center in Boulder, Colorado. First to arrive was a post card alerting us to the fact that our household had been “selected at random to participate in an anonymous citizen survey about the city of Ann Arbor,” and that we should watch the following week’s mail for the survey and instructions. [Full Story]

Column: Stew on This

For the past several months I have been attending the city of Ann Arbor’s pension board meetings. At the last meeting on Nov. 20, the atmosphere in the room was a little quieter than it had been in previous months. The city of Ann Arbor Employees’ Retirement System board of trustees was preparing to receive the latest report on the monthly performance of the city’s Pension Fund.

Willie Powell, the executive director of the retirement system, needed a couple of tries to get the grim news out: plan assets had dropped $30 million (preliminary) in October, and combined with a $50 million drop in September, the asset value was now just below $300 million – down 33% year to date. I noticed a definite groan coming from the vicinity of Tom Crawford, chief financial officer for the city of Ann Arbor. [Full Story]

Want More Email? Sign Up with the City

In a previous piece on Impact 2008, The Chronicle reported that the city of Ann Arbor was working on a pilot project that would let residents subscribe to an email alert by subject, expected to be ready by year’s end. The pilot, at least, appears to be in place. We noticed the appearance of a little red envelope at the top right of the city’s website and followed the link to the email subscription interface. [Full Story]