Ann Arbor Allocates Human Services Funding

LDFA annual report heard; more support for public art
red ribbon closed loop

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) holds a red ribbon representing the general fund dollars in the Ann Arbor city budget. In the background are Mayor John Hieftje and Jim Mogensen, who gave a presentation during public commentary.

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting (April 20, 2009): At its Monday night meeting, Ann Arbor city councilmembers approved around $1.3 million in human services funding (after a “red-ribbon” presentation during public commentary on that subject).

They also heard the 2008 annual report from the chair of the local development finance authority (who was closely questioned by councilmember Marcia Higgins), allowed Tios an early exit to its lease, accommodated the University of Michigan’s request for a lane closure in connection with the football stadium renovation, and rejected the planning commission’s adopted downtown plan (which was expected) – which bumps the final decision on A2D2 zoning to early July.

During public commentary, council again heard support for  public art, a critique of the proposed early-out option for police officers as a part of the proposed budget, a suggestion to remove the East Stadium bridge, as well as Jim Mogensen’s “red ribbon” presentation.

Roger Fraser also gave the official presentation of the city’s budget, which had been presented twice previously last week – at a working session and also at a town hall meeting.

Human Services Funding

Mogensen’s “red-ribbon” presentation has become somewhat of an annual event on the occasion of the allocation for human services funding. So that’s where we begin.

Jim Mogensen: Mogensen began by displaying a bar chart indicating how much was spent on human services, the attorney’s office, and the finance office – all of which are bars short enough to fit onto the chart he was holding. With the assistance of Steve Bean, he then unrolled a red ribbon used to indicate the bar for the entire general fund – which ran around to his left past Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) – who helped to hold the red strand aloft – around the corner where city attorney Stephen Postema sits. Bean handed off to Mayor John Hieftje, who unfurled the ribbon along the Ward 1 through Ward 3 side of the table, where it was held up by Sabra Briere (Ward 1), then back to the speaker’s podium. The point of the red ribbon, Mogensen said, was to counter the notion that if “liberal Ann Arbor wouldn’t spend so much of the general fund money on human services, that everything would be all right.” He said the city actually outsourced human services funding – issuing RFPs and then not fully funding the RFPs. He asked that council members consider the impact of failure to fund human services on nonprofits and on the police and court system.  What might be cut out of human services, he said, would have to be put back in for police and court services.

Guy with bar chart with expanding bar unrolling red ribbon

Steve Bean begins unrolling the general fund ribbon for Jim Mogensen's bar chart.

Council deliberations: The resolution that was considered by council allocated roughly $1.3 million to fund various organizations providing human services. The issue was summarized by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) during deliberations as the tension between a giant pile of need versus a much smaller pile of cash.

The presentation on how the allocations were parsed out was made by Mary Jo Callan, director of community development, which is a collaborative venture between the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

Callan said there had been 63 applications for a total of $3.4 million – a number not met by the $1.3 million from the city plus around $400,000 from the Urban County. “You can do the math,” she said. Callan said that they’d set out clear criteria against which each application was scored (a 70-point total scale).

[The complete criteria, plus the scores assigned to various proposals, are included in this .PDF file. As an example, "community need" was one area to which scores were assigned. The 0-5 scale for the "community need" item, like the other scales, were defined with descriptors for each point on the scale. For example " ... 1=identifies needs aligned with priority area, but does not evaluate whether the need is currently being met in the community ... 4=proposal identifies needs aligned with priority area; similar services are available but inaccessible by the target population ... "]

Flow chart of funding process for human services

Flow chart of process for allocation of human services funds. (Image links to higher resolution file.)

Callan explained that the idea was to “bolster what we have,” but there was also room in the process to include some new programs. New programs, however, had a ceiling of $10,000. Based on the scoring of proposals on the 70-point scale, the proposals were broken down into quartiles, with the funding levels based on those quartiles. The first quartile was assigned a 10% increase over 2008-09 levels. The second quartile was assigned unchanged funding from last year. The third quartile received a decrease of 15%, and the bottom quartile was assigned a 35% decrease until funds ran out. To be funded, a new program had to be among the top two quartiles.

The process elicited praise for its clarity and its objectivity from several councilmembers. Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), who has served on the housing and human services advisory board for three years, said that the intent behind the scoring metrics was to steer towards a mindset of a focus on services. The intent was also to encourage consolidation where  appropriate, Rapundalo said.

Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), who’d submitted an emailed question beforehand on the topic, raised the question of whether there were any implications for the allocations – which come from the FY 2010 budget – given that they’re being made before the budget is adopted. Hohnke noted that the reason the allocations were coming in advance of the FY 2010 budget adoption was the need to meet a Housing and Urban Development application deadline. Callan clarified that the HUD deadline related to the Urban County portion of the funding. An application could be amended, she said. She said that city council and the Urban County were authorizing a “package deal” and that any changes would need to be authorized by both entities.

Callon clarified for Hohnke that the amount of the allocation was the same, but that the contingency amount was slightly different, because the contingency reflected the amount leftover after funding was allocated according to the algorithm.

guy with red ribbon streching across his foot

City attorney Stephen Postema's right foot kept the ribbon from dragging the floor at his corner of the table.

Taylor noted that he was disappointed to see some of the programs that had been left behind and not funded, mentioning specifically some in the Bryant neighborhood. Taylor was thus interested in knowing what kind of resources might exist to which they could appeal. Callan said that she was working with the Community Action Network (CAN) [which had proposed two different programs for the Bryant neighborhood that were not allocated any funds.]

Sandi Smith (Ward 1) inquired how federal stimulus package funds might factor into offsetting some of the gaps. Callan explained that the community development stimulus funds focused on housing and neighborhood revitalization – the kind of projects, she said, that Avalon Housing does. There’s no stimulus funds for services, she said.

Hieftje expressed concern that it was only going to get tougher next year and that to hold the human services funding level this year (as compared to last) was difficult. Callan said that the Urban County was a step in the right direction, as was the consolidation of processes – which the process on the table that evening reflected. That freed up staff time to focus on identifying the outcomes they wanted to see and to work with nonprofits to achieve those outcomes.

Jim Mogensen: Mogensen also spoke at the time allotted at the end of the meeting for public commentary – in response to the nature of the council’s discussion, which had focused on the desirability of scoring metrics and objectivity, as well as the advantages of consolidation of nonprofits. He began by posing the question: “Why is consolidation not a good idea?” He drew analogy to all-in-one business machines that could copy, fax, print, email, but when they failed to function, then nothing at all worked. So he urged caution with respect to the idea of consolidating nonprofits. He also urged councilmembers to consider the unintended consequences of scoring metrics – the possibility that the highest-scoring organizations would up with geographic distributions that weren’t reflective of where people lived who were in need.

Outcome: The allocation was unanimously approved.


Richard King, chair of the local development finance authority, began his presentation by giving a quick history of the LDFA in Ann Arbor, which is responsible for overseeing the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone. The SmartZones were created in 2001 by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to help generate technology-based businesses and to promote job creation in the SmartZone areas.

Woman standing next to a man at a podium

At the podium is Elizabeth Parkinson, who is managing director for marketing and public relations at Ann Arbor SPARK, and Richard King, chair of the LDFA.

To create the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone, an application was made by the Washtenaw Development Council [which has since merged with Ann Arbor SPARK], together with the IT Zone to the MEDC. Because the SmartZone area covers the geographic regions of both the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Ypsilanti DDA, the two cities had to enter into a joint agreement in order to create it. The LDFA board was created in 2003, with six members appointed from Ann Arbor, and three from Ypsilanti, and one MEDC as an ex-officio member.

The LDFA, King continued, is responsible for spending the tax capture in the Ann Arbor portion of the district. He reported that currently this is the only source of revenue for the LDFA, because the tax capture for Ypsilanti had already been committed prior to the creation of the LDFA. King stressed that despite the lack of any funding derived from the geographic area, Ypsilanti participated actively in the SmartZone, and that grants and other funding sources were used to bring activity into that market.

King said that the main activities for the year were to establish the budget and to determine the scope of work for the contractor that the LDFA works with: Ann Arbor SPARK. [LDFA 2008 Annual Report] He said that they’d elected to make Ann Arbor a focus, because the primary funding came from Ann Arbor, and that the primary point of contact had been SPARK.

He described SPARK as having had a successful year. SPARK operated two boot camps for entrepreneurs who showed high potential for growth, and opened an “incubator” on Liberty Street that houses up to 12 businesses and can support a range of “virtual businesses.” There were five tenants that used the incubator, King said, and 17 total businesses engaged with the incubator, including virtual businesses. He reported that SPARK had also held several events for training and networking to add more focus to Ann Arbor, and to excite the congregation of businesses in Ann Arbor. A total of 50 events were held, he said, and hundreds of businesses came through Ann Arbor in conjunction with that.

The main expenditure, King said, was for “accelerator services” for companies that show high potential to grow rapidly if they’re provided with management assistance, help gaining capital from investors, and ways of developing partnerships with major companies. There were 270 companies that sought assistance from SPARK for these services in 2008. Due diligence (an in-depth look) was done on 148 of those, King reported. There were 98 companies that received accelerator services, which includes marketing and business planning.

In  a survey of companies at the end of the year that SPARK had worked with, they’d learned that 46 jobs had been generated in the course of 2008. Over the three years of history that had been tracked, King reported that around 650 jobs had been created through the SmartZone.

Next Tuesday, the meeting of the LDFA will be organized as a “retreat,” in which they will discuss in depth how the LDFA will approach the next few years of activity. In particular, King said, they felt there’d been an increase in the kinds of services offered beyond accelerator services, and that they could go to another level of support for activity in Ann Arbor. He said it was also important to think through the fact that other states had become more competitive in how they approached SmartZone-type economic development of technology businesses. After being at the front when SmartZones were first created, King said, the rest of the world was catching up.

King invited councilmembers to attend the retreat, which will start at 8 a.m. and run until early afternoon.

Questions on the LDFA: Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) engaged King in an extended back-and-forth on a couple of different issues, some of which were clarificational, but others of which were more pointed.

In the clarification category, Higgins elicited from King examples of other states that were competitive in their accelerator services: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and California.

She also had King clarify that there was no LDFA-supported activity in the Ypsilanti portion of the SmartZone, because there is no funding stream.

Noting that the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone was contemplating supporting private investment groups with tax dollars, Higgins wanted to know whether other SmartZones used tax money in that way. King drew a distinction between administrative support and the use of tax money as an investment in the funds, the second of which  he said was not something the LDFA would do. He said that what was being considered was the use of tax dollars to help an angel group get started – getting a basic framework for operation established. Higgins said that she had real concerns about the use of tax dollars for either purpose. She noted that there were already local and regional venture capital firms that provided angel funding at different levels for appropriately vetted start-up companies. She wondered, therefore, why the city would be using tax dollars to do something that was already being done.

She also asked a general question about how the marketing budget is allocated. King responded by talking about the general effort to publicize the fact that Ann Arbor is a place with entrepreneurial activity. Higgins said she wanted more detail in light of the fact that council had authorized $50,000 for SPARK, which she understood to be for marketing and letting people know just now viable the Ann Arbor area was. [Council approved the $50,000 in August of 2007]. She had concerns, she said, if the LDFA was spending money on the same thing for which the city – through its general fund – was already providing marketing dollars. Higgins also said that comparing Ann Arbor’s contribution to other municipalities in the area, Ann Arbor paid higher fees.

Elizabeth Parkinson, who is managing director for marketing and public relations at SPARK, was on hand to provide some of the details. She described the $50,000 as going into the “core fund” – salary and overhead, which could be spent on advertising as well, because advertising comes from the core budget. The LDFA money, she said, could only be put towards business acceleration and business incubation, which is a very different thing. She reported that her total marketing budget for SPARK was $250,000. Higgins said that when the executive director of SPARK, Michael Finney, had made his presentation in August 2007, she’d understood that the money would be spent on the marketing piece, saying at the time the question was: “What does that $50,000 do for Ann Arbor?”

King said that everything SPARK did connected in some way to the marketing of the area, because the purpose of an economic development organization (like SPARK) was to market the area it represents.

Higgins concluded her questions by asking about the 650 jobs that had evolved over the course of SPARK’s history. “Would any of those jobs have evolved in the absence of LDFA funding?” King allowed that they would have – though perhaps not as quickly or in the same places.

Downtown Plan: When Are We Going to Vote?

The downtown plan as recently adopted by planning commission – which is a part of the A2D2 effort to update master plans and simplify zoning for the city –  came before council Monday night. The vote to reject adoption of the plan was unanimous –  a result that was expected based on amendments to the zoning proposal that council undertook at its April 6, 2009 meeting.

It’s not an option for council to amend the downtown plan and then adopt the amended plan, because state law requires that planning commission and council adopt the same master plan, of which the downtown plan is a part. In this respect, the downtown plan is different from the zoning package recommended by planning commission, which council amended at the zoning package’s first reading and can enact on its own.

Jayne Miller, director of community services for the city, explained that with council sending the downtown plan back to planning commission, that would give planning commission time to make needed revisions in May. It could then come back to council on June 15, 2009, in a form that would be consistent with the zoning amendments that council undertook. That would allow council to consider the final vote on the zoning package on July 6, 2009.

Outcome: Unanimous vote against adoption of the downtown plan.

Lanes, Bridges, and Speed Bumps

University of Michigan Stadium: Last year, Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for the University of Michigan, came before council to request a Main Street lane closure in connection with the football stadium renovation. At that time, councilmembers expressed their dissatisfaction that the university was pursuing a construction work schedule that imposed an undue burden of noise on the neighborhood, not having embraced the idea of voluntary compliance with the city’s noise ordinance. The request was not granted.

On Monday night, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) in whose ward the stadium sits, said that while the neighbors had still had to contend with dust from construction, they had not been subjected to continual late night noise, and she urged her colleagues to support the lane closure resolution.

From the memo from city staff supporting the closure:

In 2008, the University of Michigan began the construction of the West Arcade Wall at its Football Stadium on the east side of S. Main Street, north of Stadium Blvd. To date the construction project has continued without a long term traffic lane closure at S. Main Street. However in 2010, the contractors must complete the Wall which is 90 feet tall at its highest point.

To ensure the safety of the construction workers and the general public, the contractors have proposed a temporary traffic control plan for the construction phase from March 2010 through July 2010. The plan requires the temporary closure of the most easterly traffic lane at S. Main Street, from Snyder Ave to Keech Ave. The traffic control plan includes maintaining one southbound and two northbound traffic lanes on S. Main Street. The plan also includes an alternate route for the southbound traffic using Pauline Blvd, S. Seventh Street and Scio Church Road. We anticipate some use of the alternate route during afternoon rush hours in the weekdays.

In 2010, W. Stadium Blvd will be under construction. In anticipation of the proposed S. Main Street lane closure plan, we have scheduled the W. Stadium construction to include the work between the Pauline Blvd intersection and the S. Seventh intersection for the months of April 2010 through July 2010. After July 2010 and the restoration of all the traffic lanes on S. Main Street, the construction of W. Stadium Blvd at S. Seventh Street will begin.

In 2010, we could begin the construction of the two bridges at E. Stadium Blvd. This project may begin shortly before July 2010 or later in the summer of 2010. At this time, we do not anticipate any major conflicts between the proposed S. Main Street lane closure plan and the reconstruction of the two bridges at E. Stadium Blvd.

The plan includes provisions for the restoration of the traffic lanes at S. Main Street for the 2010 Ann Arbor Art Festival. All costs associated with the proposed traffic control plan will be the responsibility of the University of Michigan and its contractors.

Higgins made a successful motion to add a “whereas” clause to cover the eventuality that the East Stadium bridge would need to be closed prior to its reconstruction. The clause gives the city the option to rescind the lane closure under conditions where traffic patterns are dramatically changed. The East Stadium bridge is currently being monitored for its safety. If it were to be deemed unsafe, requiring its closure until its reconstruction, the clause would allow the city flexibility of opening the Main Street lane.

Outcome: Lane closure was unanimously approved.

During  public commentary, Arnold Goetzke addressed the East Stadium bridge situation.

Arnold Goetzke: Goetzke argued for a no-bridge option at the intersection of State and Stadium instead of continuing to invest millions of dollars in bridge construction and maintenance. He said that the making the rail crossing at-grade was reasonable, because there was not sufficient train traffic on the line to necessitate a bridge. He said that in his experience living in Burns Park for several years, he’d never had to stop for a train while driving through town.

Goetzke urged councilmembers to understand how many times trains use the tracks and when they use it before authorizing a bridge project. He said that Ann Arbor was building “a bridge to nowhere” and confirmed the allusion to the critique of a project in Alaska that drew public attention during the presidential campaign of 2008, by saying, “Where is Sarah Palin when you need her?”

In the comment thread on The Chronicle article to which we’ve linked above, there’s a discussion of the no-bridge option.

Iroquois Water Main: Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) asked for a time frame and clarification of scope of work from city staff on the Stadium and Iroquois water main replacement project. It’s slated to begin May 18, 2009, and be finished in September, 2009. The traffic calming devices (a.k.a. speed bumps) on Iroquois – which were installed early in the city’s traffic calming program – will be replaced with a “less aggressive” version that is the current standard. Here’s a Google Street View of speed bumps on Iroquois.


Lease: At its Feb. 17, 2009 meeting, during public commentary, council heard from Tim and Harriet Seaver, owners of Tios Mexican Cafe, objecting to the city’s plans to demolish the building they leased. The city wants to use it for a surface parking. In July 2008, the city of Ann Arbor purchased the building at 333 E. Huron, where Tios Mexican Cafe is housed, for $605,000. The building sits on the same block as the Larcom Building (city hall). The lease to Tios was set to expire on June 30, 2009.

Council considered a resolution that amended the lease to end a month sooner, inorder to accommodate the Seavers’ plans to move to a new location at 401 E. Liberty, the former location of Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina. According to the lease, the monthly rent specified through March 31 was $2,475. From April 1, 2009 through May 31, 2009, the monthly rent is specified as $620.

Outcome: Council voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the lease.

Liquor: Council considered a resolution to withdraw approval of a Class C liquor license for the former tenant of Tios’ new space, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina. The license is not tied to the address, but Tios could apply for it.

Outcome: Council voted unanimously to approve the withdrawal of the license.

Public Art

As they had at the previous council meeting, a number of public speakers addressed the issue of public art.

Bob Galardi: Galardi said that the Percent for Art program was a wise and forward-thinking investment in government facilities. With respect to the first public art to be funded through the program, he said that the ecological theme of the rain garden to be designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl was appropriate for Ann Arbor, which prides itself on being green. He suggested that years from now children of all ages could look at the project and learn about the combination of art and science. He envisioned that the rain garden could become a regular stop for visitors of the Hands On Museum. Although art was generally the “whipping boy” during tough economic times, Galardi said, public art enhances economic vitality – citing the enhanced walkability of the community as one example.

Mark Tucker: Tucker introduced himself as an art teacher in the University of Michigan Lloyd Hall Scholars Program and founder of the FestiFools event. He described FestiFools as not just an entertainment spectacle, but as a dialogue linking the creative process with the community in which artists live. He said that the Dreiseitl project that is proposed as a part of the new municipal center complex had already begun to engage the community in a stimulating dialogue. It was unfortunate, he said, that much of the dialogue got stuck on topics not related to artistic integrity, such as where the artist was from, or how much it cost. He said that the value of the investment could be found in the community discourse about the art that would continue long after the artwork had been unveiled. He suggested that outstanding public artwork acts as a magnet for the community and draws favorable attention to the community. He asked everyone to unite in supporting the public art program.

Tamara Real: Real introduced herself as the head of the Arts Alliance. She said that she used to run a program like the Percent for Art program in New Haven, Conn. There were about 350 communities in North America that had percent for art programs, she said, and that creative entrepreneurs could choose where they want to do their work. A sense of place is therefore important, she said. The Percent for Art program would allow Ann Arbor to compete on a level that it had not been able to previously. She said when she moved here from Connecticut 20 years ago, she was shocked that there was not a percent for art program in Ann Arbor.

Real stressed the importance of the potential economic impact of public art installations, citing examples in Chicago and New York, while allowing that Ann Arbor was not Chicago or New York. She said that art could generate controversy, but that it could lead to a wonderful community dialogue. Ann Arbor is a community that loves to talk about anything and everything, so let’s talk about art, she suggested.

Budget: Senior Center

City administrator Roger Fraser gave his official budget presentation to city council on Monday night, after previewing it at a working session and a town hall meeting. One of the items proposed in the plan for 2011 is the closing of the Ann Arbor senior center. Last week we asked for some clarification from city staff on the situation with the senior center by asking some specific questions. We were able to do some work on them independently, which we’ve already reported. Answers provided by Jayne Miller, community services director for the city, are consistent with that reporting and fill in many gaps. Our questions are in bold with answers in italics.

1. Is there a legal encumbrance on the property that would preclude using the property for something else? (If not, what would the city’s plan be if the center were closed?)

Answer: Parks and Recreation staff has looked through the historical files on both the Senior Center and Burns Park and have found nothing that suggests that the property can only be used as a Senior Center. A title search through the attorney’s office has yet to be conducted, but could shed further light on the matter.

2. What’s the status of the $100,000 gift from Mr. Flinn – is it being handled by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, or the city?

Answer: The $100,000 gift is kept by the city in a segregated endowed fund, and was received July 10, 2007. The current balance is $103,433 due to interest earned. The Senior Advisory Board (an advisory board to the Senior Center) is working on a recommendation on how to best use the gift. This recommendation would then be brought forward to the Park Advisory Commission and City Council.

3. What is the breakdown of expenses and revenues associated with the Senior Center that leads to the projected cost savings in closing the center? We’re assuming that there are some revenues (at least theoretically) inasmuch as some classes seem to charge a fee, and the city’s website indicates that there’s the possibility of renting the facility.

Answer: Expenses for FY 2008 were $171,059, revenues were $17,385 – net cost to the general fund was $153,674. Estimated expenses for FY 2009 are $193,968 while revenue is estimated at $31,950 – resulting in a net cost of $162,018 to the general fund. The proposed expenses for FY 2010 are $189,862 and the revenue is forecast at $38,180 – projecting a $151,682 cost to the general fund.

4. What’s the usage of the center annually – how many total people and how many that use it on a “regular basis”?

Answer: Approximately 12,000 to 15,000 visits are recorded annually at the Senior Center. Approximately 500 people use the center on a “regular basis.”

Budget: COPS Application

Council considered a resolution to apply for the 2009 COPS grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of community oriented policing.  City administrator Roger Fraser explained that the grant was designed to provide funding for up to four positions in the event that layoffs from the police force were required. Under the currently proposed budget for FY 2010, there are a number of layoffs possible, depending on how many officers opt for the early-out retirement that the city is offering.

When Fraser indicated that technically, the application had already been made, with council’s resolution representing an affirmation of support, Leigh Greden (Ward 3) suggested that city staff convey details of the grant application to Congressman John Dingell’s office. In that way Dingell’s office could track the application and issue a letter of support, Greden said.

Budget: Early Retirements

Also related to the early retirements offered in connection with the proposed FY 2010 budget were the remarks that Karen Sidney, a local accountant, delivered during public commentary.

Karen Sidney: Sidney began by noting that for the two fiscal years 2010-11, the proposed budget proposed cutting 41 positions in the police and fire departments. Instead of paying salary and benefits to these officers to protect us, she said, we’d be paying them pension and lifetime health care benefits for them to do nothing. “Paying people not to work is not a cost-cutting strategy,” she said, characterizing it as an “accounting gimmick.” While the salary savings was realized in the first year, she said, it took two years for the retirement bill to show up.

Sidney identified the problem as providing generous retirement health care benefits, without setting aside money to pay for them. She traced the problem back to 2005, when she said that a blue-ribbon retirement benefit committee appointed by the mayor had indicated that the retiree health benefit commitment was a looming problem. In the four years since the report, she said, the city had failed to implement its recommendations. [Among them were a change in the composition of the trustee board to a majority of independent trustees and the elimination of the city administrator as a trustee.] Sidney cited the recent resignation of a trustee board member over the failure of the city to act on the committee’s recommendation. [Robert Pollack, Jr. resigned in April 2008 and included the failure of the city to act on the committee's recommendation in the reasons for resigning that he gave in his resignation letter.]

Since 2005, Sidney continued, the shortfall in the retirement health care benefit fund has grown from $92 million to $157 million.

Later in the meeting, during the time allotted for communications from council, Mayor Hieftje called Tom Crawford, the city’s chief financial officer, to the podium in an effort to counter some of Sidney’s remarks. Crawford confirmed that the cost for the early retirements would be taken as a one-time payment from the city’s reserve fund.

Progressive Policies

Thomas Partridge addressed council during public commentary reserved time at the start of the meeting, during the public hearing on approval of the Zahn Medical Office Building site plan, and at the end of the meeting. He offered a “plea and a prayer” that city government, the county government, the state and the voters would all unite to work to bring about non-discriminatory fair housing, public transportation, and public education. He called for the elimination of regressive property taxes.

Partridge asked that whenever a site plan is approved that suitable corresponding acreage be identified and set aside for affordable housing.  To improve the lot of those in need of housing, health care and transportation, he said, initiatives comparable to the Manhattan Project were required.

Present: Sabra Briere, Sandi Smith, Tony Derezinski, Stephen Rapundalo, Leigh Greden, Christopher Taylor, Margie Teall, Marcia Higgins, Carsten Hohnke, Mike Anglin, John Hieftje

Next Council Meeting: Monday, May 4, 2009 at 7 p.m. in council chambers, 2nd floor of the Guy C. Larcom, Jr. Municipal Building, 100 N. Fifth Ave. [confirm date]


  1. By My two cents
    April 22, 2009 at 9:03 am | permalink

    Is their list of what human services projects did not make the cut?

  2. By Dave Askins
    April 22, 2009 at 9:46 am | permalink

    My Two Cents,

    The .pdf file in the article contains the information on scores and allocation by program on its final page. The entire document is pretty huge, so I’ve extracted just that page and uploaded it here.

  3. April 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm | permalink

    What is a “virtual business” ?

  4. By Bob Martel
    April 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm | permalink

    Brian: “Virtual business” sounds like a “no show job” from an episode of the Sopranos!