Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (April 26, 2011): The park advisory commission (PAC) meeting on Tuesday lasted around three hours, and concluded with a budget-related resolution that reminds the Ann Arbor city council of an administrative policy on parks budgeting.
PAC chair Julie Grand lamented the short notice they had received about the proposed changes to the way parks programs will be supported in the fiscal year 2012 budget – which meant that the public had little opportunity to weigh in with PAC.
On May 2, the city council is holding its public hearing on the FY 2012 budget, which the council needs to approve at its May 16 meeting. The 2012 fiscal year begins July 1, 2011.
The city’s administrative policy on parks support dates back to a measure passed by the city council in October 2006, which reads in relevant part: “If future reductions are necessary in the City’s general fund budget, during any of the six years of this millage, beginning with Fiscal Year 2007-2008, the general fund budget supporting the parks and recreation system for that year will be reduced by a percentage no greater than the average percentage reduction of the total City general fund budget.”
The policy was seen as important to assure voters that once the 2006 millage was passed, millage money would not replace general fund support for parks.
But based on city staff calculations, the portion of the city’s general fund in the proposed FY 2012 budget that supports parks would fall short of the 2006 administrative policy standard by $90,000. And some park commissioners objected to the fact that some of the money previously drawn from the general fund to support parks will now be drawn from the METRO and stormwater funds.
The stormwater fund receives revenues paid through fees based on the amount of impervious surface on a property. The METRO fund receives revenues that the state requires telecommunications companies to pay municipalities for use of the right-of-way. For purposes of the administrative policy, the city is counting the METRO funds that are supporting parks as part of the general fund.
The resolution passed by PAC called on the city council to adhere to the prevailing administrative policy. A different resolution passed by PAC expressed the body’s support for the cost-savings measures in the parks and recreation programs included in the FY 2012 budget. Besides parks and recreation programs, park operations are supported by the general fund – in the public services area of the budget. The administrative policy discrepancy lies in the park operations budget.
In other budget-related business, the commission recommended fee increases and new program fees that had been suggested by city staff. Those increases will need final authorization by the city council.
The commission also received a presentation from the Ann Arbor public art commission on a program to create murals. One of the initial sites selected for mural installation is the restroom building at Allmendinger Park.