Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (May 5, 2010): During the DDA board’s monthly meeting, mayor John Hieftje and city councilmember Sandi Smith found themselves briefly sidelined from the board on which they sit.
They were at the table, however, for the final vote on whether to pay $2 million to the city, which the DDA is not obligated to pay under terms of its existing parking system agreement.
The 7-4 outcome of that vote on the 12-member body, of which 11 were present, was enough to write a $2 million check to the city. Voices of opposition to the fund transfer came not only from inside the board itself, but also from the business community during public commentary. Two former DDA board members were in the audience.
An initial opinion given at the meeting by DDA legal counsel Jerry Lax was that Hieftje and Smith could participate in the deliberations. But when an amendment was proposed, which had a side-effect of removing the basis for Lax’s earlier advice, Smith recused herself. As it became apparent that Hieftje intended to remain at the table, board member Jennifer Hall raised the point of order again, and Lax indicated Smith’s recusal was appropriate and that Hieftje should follow suit. Finally, Hieftje accepted the opinion of the DDA’s legal counsel and took a seat in the audience, but contended that he’d been given different advice from the city attorney’s office. When the amendment failed, Smith and Hieftje were back at the table.
Another board resolution that generated animated discussion, but was ultimately tabled, involved a systematic re-allocation of funds, in $60,000 increments, to a reserve to pay for the restoration of downtown police beat patrols. The re-allocation would have come from monies previously slated to fund the Howell-Ann Arbor commuter rail project (Washtenaw Livingston Rail Line – WALLY).
The committee reports to the board did not involve the kind of blunt talk that emerged during discussions of the two resolutions. But two topics reported out from the board’s transportation committee can be expected to receive wider visibility in the coming months: (i) Where will the two employees of the getDowntown program be housed? and (ii) Can there be an express Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti bus?
In this meeting report, we focus exclusively on the $2 million transfer from the DDA to the city of Ann Arbor.