Ann Arbor City Council meeting (May 17, 2010): By its second meeting in May, the city of Ann Arbor’s charter stipulates that the city council must adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts on July 1.
On Monday night, the council unanimously adopted its roughly $78 million general fund budget – as amended to reflect new revenue items. Those new revenue items allowed the council to eliminate five firefighter positions and no police jobs. As originally proposed, the budget would have eliminated 35 fire and police positions combined.
Next year’s work will not be any easier. CFO Tom Crawford said at the meeting that he’s projecting a $5 million deficit in FY 2012.
Deliberations on the budget did not begin until late in the evening. Occupying more of the council’s time than the city’s FY 2011 budget were two issues related to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. One of those issues was a sidewalk occupancy ordinance applicable only within the DDA district. The ordinance, which legalizes the use of sandwich board signs, passed after a failed attempt by Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) to get it postponed.
The second DDA issue on the agenda involved a $2 million payment from the DDA to the city, which helped the council to amend its budget to reduce layoffs of fire and police. In approving the $2 million payment, the DDA board had included in its resolution a requirement to have a future public process for continued conversations between the city and the DDA about renegotiating a parking agreement between the two entities. From January through April of this year, conversations on that topic between the city and the DDA took place out of public view.
On Monday, the council considered a resolution thanking the DDA for the money and providing a commitment to public process for conversations about the parking agreement – parallel to the public process explicated in the DDA’s resolution. The council resolution passed – stripped of its language about open and transparent process on the grounds that it was redundant – after a brief attempt by Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) to get the resolution tabled.
In other significant business, mayor John Hieftje nominated a replacement for Ted Annis on the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board: Roger Kerson, who in 2008 contemplated a run for a Ward 5 council seat, but decided against it.
Anya Dale had been nominated by the mayor to replace Paul Ajegba on the AATA board at the council’s previous meeting. On Monday, confirmation of her appointment included one hitch – Sabra Briere (Ward 1) cast a vote against it.