Ann Arbor city council meeting (April 19, 2011): The city council delayed a second and final vote on two local laws that involve regulation of medical marijuana businesses in the city – one on zoning and the other on licenses.
After public hearings on the two medical marijuana laws, the council did not deliberate long in deciding to postpone both votes until its next meeting, on May 2. Substantive amendments that had been presented to councilmembers late that day for consideration made them reluctant to attempt grappling with the amendments in detail. The May 2 vote on the two laws will likely count only as their initial approval, assuming the amendments are adopted at that meeting. The laws would then need an additional final reading after May 2 before they are enacted.
A tweak to the city’s panhandling ordinance was given its second and final approval at the April 19 meeting. That change to the existing ordinance had come as a recommendation from a task force that worked for six months on the issue, following up on a longer effort in the early 2000s that had led to adopting the language in the existing ordinance.
The longest deliberations of the night involved a resolution of instruction to the council’s “mutually beneficial” committee, which is currently negotiating a new contract under which the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority would continue to manage the city’s public parking system. The direction given to the committee was not to stay firm with its previous bargaining position, but rather to escalate the city’s expectations for revenues from the public parking system.
Previously, the city’s committee had taken the position that the city should receive 16% of gross parking revenues in the first two years of a 10-year contract, and 17.5% in remaining years. That compared with the DDA’s position that the city should receive a flat 16% across all years. But at the meeting, the council voted to direct its committee to take the position that the city should receive a flat 18%. The council’s deliberations included comments directed towards the DDA that could fairly be described as inflammatory.
Called to the podium to comment on the parking revenue figures and the DDA’s overall financial health was the city’s chief financial officer, Tom Crawford. Later in the meeting, Crawford was appointed interim city administrator, effective April 28. Current administrator Roger Fraser is leaving the post to take a job as a deputy treasurer for the state of Michigan.
Although councilmembers did not comment on it, Fraser was attending his last meeting of the council as city administrator. And in his final major act, he gave a formal presentation to the council of his proposed fiscal year 2012 budget, as required by the city charter. The charter stipulates that the council will need to amend and approve the budget by May 16, its second meeting that month.