Stories indexed with the term ‘Sandi Smith’

DDA OKs Capital Projects, Art Fair Trolley

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority monthly board meeting and annual meeting (July 3, 2013): In its voting business, the DDA board allocated a total of $550,000 for capital projects – either planning for future work or actual current projects.

Sandi Smith was elected by her colleagues a chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board at its July 3, 2013 annual meeting. Here she's showing off the DDAs new website with her tablet.

Sandi Smith was elected by her colleagues as chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board at its July 3, 2013 annual meeting. Here she’s showing the DDA’s new website on her tablet. (Photos by the writer.)

The board also approved a $59,200 grant to support the formation of a business improvement zone in the South University area. A “trolley” for the upcoming art fairs also received $10,000 worth of support, in action taken by the board.

The capital projects included $50,000 for repair of sidewalk-related amenities that aren’t covered by the city’s sidewalk millage. In addition, the board allocated $200,000 for a streetscape framework planning project. Board action also included $300,000 for the replacement of light poles on Main Street.

The light pole replacement is one source of current friction between the city and the DDA – as the expectation of the city had been that the entire $516,000 project would be paid for by the DDA. But the result of wrangling over the DDA’s FY 2014 budget – given approval by the council on May 20 – was a transfer of $300,000 from the DDA’s TIF fund to the DDA’s housing fund. So the DDA’s position is that it can’t fund the entire light pole replacement project, because of that transfer to the housing fund.

The light pole question is related to the general issue of DDA finances and the revenue it receives through tax increment finance (TIF) capture of taxes – from entities that levy those taxes in the DDA district. Elected as chair at the annual meeting – which immediately followed the board’s monthly meeting – Sandi Smith will face the resolution of the TIF revenue issue as one of her first challenges.

The outstanding issue concerns the way that the DDA administers Chapter 7 of the city code of Ann Arbor – which regulates the DDA’s TIF capture. This spring the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to a revision to Chapter 7. The council’s action, if given final approval, would prevent the DDA from giving the code an interpretation that doesn’t recognize a cap on TIF revenue that is expressed in Chapter 7. The amendment to the ordinance would return several hundred thousand dollars a year to other taxing authorities from which the DDA captures taxes. Those entities include the Ann Arbor District Library, Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw County and the city of Ann Arbor.

The council has postponed final action on the matter until Sept. 3, 2013. Between now and then, the council’s expectation is that a joint DDA-council committee will meet and make recommendations on the Chapter 7 issue.

At its July 1 meeting, the city council appointed four members to its committee: Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2). And at the July 3 monthly meeting, outgoing DDA board chair Leah Gunn appointed the DDA’s committee: Bob Guenzel, Roger Hewitt, Joan Lowenstein and Sandi Smith.

Another point of recent budgetary friction between the city and the DDA was raised briefly at the July 3 board meeting. In a formal resolution, the city council had encouraged the DDA to allocate money to fund downtown beat patrol police officers. For its part, the DDA has for a few years already been mulling the question of some kind of additional security – either in the form of ambassadors, community standards officers or police officers. At the July 3 meeting, DDA board members indicated they would continue to mull that range of options, but seemed disinclined to commit to funding police officers.

The board also heard a range of routine reports on July 3, including the monthly parking revenue report. The DDA manages the city’s public parking system under a contract with the city of Ann Arbor. In the future, it was announced, the report will be delivered only on a quarterly basis. Also related to parking policy, a tentative pilot project was announced that could change the basic approach the DDA takes to selling monthly parking permits. The idea would be to assign permit eligibility only to property owners in a defined geographic area. The number of permits would depend on the number of square feet of property – independent of uses such as office, residential, retail, etc. Currently, the DDA uses a first-come-first-served system for individuals, with a waiting list.

The DDA’s monthly meeting marked a transition on the board, as two board members were bid farewell. Newcombe Clark served one four-year term. He’s making an employment-related move to Chicago. Leah Gunn concluded nearly 22 years of service on the board. She finished out her time on the board as chair. [Full Story]

Sandi Smith Takes DDA Baton from Gunn

Sandi Smith has been elected chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The board took the action at its annual meeting, which followed its regular monthly board meeting on July 3, 2013. Smith’s election as chair followed the board’s custom of electing its vice chair to the position of chair for the next year.

Other board officers elected included John Mouat as vice chair, Keith Orr as secretary, and Roger Hewitt as treasurer.

One of Smith’s first challenges leading the board will be to resolve an outstanding issue over the way the DDA administers Chapter 7 of the city code of Ann Arbor – which regulates the DDA’s tax increment finance … [Full Story]

North Main Task Force Gets New Member

A task force that’s looking at future planning for the North Main Street and Huron River corridor has been expanded so that it eventually can include outgoing councilmember Sandi Smith (Ward 1). She was appointed to represent the council on the group, but did not seek re-election to her council seat. The vote to expand the task force came at the council’s Nov. 8, 2012 meeting. Smith was also nominated and confirmed in a one-step process serve as an additional citizen member.

Mayor John Hieftje had indicated at the council’s Oct. 15, 2012 meeting that he would be moving to expand the task force in this way. The resolution was sponsored by Smith’s Ward 1 cohort, Sabra Briere. At the meeting, Briere … [Full Story]

DDA Nominations: Smith, Hewitt, Orr

Nominated for reappointment to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority are Sandi Smith, Roger Hewitt and Keith Orr. Those nominations were placed before the city council by mayor John Hieftje at the council’s Aug. 9, 2012 meeting.

This year’s DDA board officer elections, held  two months ago at the July 2, 2012 annual meeting, again featured abstention on some votes by board member Newcombe Clark – because the future composition of the board was not yet clear. Hieftje’s custom for many re-appointments to city boards and commissions has been to provide no public indication of his intentions on those nominations.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. … [Full Story]

Sandi Smith Won’t Seek Third Council Term

In a phone conversation with The Chronicle on Monday afternoon, Ward 1 Ann Arbor city councilmember Sandi Smith has indicated she will not be seeking reelection to a third term on the council. As competing demands on her time, she cited the growth of her company Trillium Real Estate and the recent surge in the real estate market. She has also agreed to a leadership position for the Jim Toy Center, Washtenaw County’s LGBT Resource Center.

Smith also serves on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Her current term expires in July 2012. She said she plans to seek reappointment to that position.

First elected to the council in 2008, Smith – a Democrat – is now serving her second … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Ward 1 Council


Candidates for Ward 1 Ann Arbor city council in the Democratic primary: Sumi Kailasapathy (top) is challenging incumbent Sandi Smith (bottom). (Photos by the writer.)

On Thursday evening, the first day of July, the North Central Property Owners Association (NCPOA) hosted a forum for candidates in two Democratic primary races: Ward 1 city council representative and mayor. Around 60 people packed into the lower level of a room in the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Coverage of mayoral candidate responses to audience questions is provided in a separate article: “Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race.”

The Ward 1 city council race this year is contested by incumbent Sandi Smith and challenger Sumi Kailasapathy. City council representatives are elected for two-year terms and each of the city’s five wards has two seats on the council, one of which is elected each year. The winner of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary will not face a Republican challenger in November.

The other representative for Ward 1 is Sabra Briere, who was in the audience at Thursday’s forum, seated next to John Hilton, editor of The Ann Arbor Observer and a member of the NCPOA. The location of the forum at the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street and its sponsorship by the NCPOA was significant – the site is across the street from Near North, which was a controversial affordable housing development approved in September 2009.

Development and the definition of downtown was one of several topics raised by questions put to the candidates. For her part, Smith emphasized that experience was needed on the city council during these tough economic times, and that she has that experience. Smith questioned Kailasapathy’s basic contention that there was a significant amount of waste in the city’s budget and pointed to other cities that were not weathering the economic storm as well as Ann Arbor.

Kailasapathy stressed her expertise in financial matters as a CPA, but said that she was not merely a “bean counter.” She repeatedly returned to a theme of emphasis on the basic core services and eliminating waste in the budget. Through the course of the evening, she drew several laughs from the audience for various quips, like one suggesting that Ann Arbor was trying to become a “knock-off” of Southfield. [Full Story]