At its May 16, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council adopted a revision to the 2006 administrative policy that governs the use of the city’s parks capital improvements and maintenance millage, including how spending from the city’s general fund should support Ann Arbor’s parks.
A key point to the revision includes an additional provision that “for the purpose of this resolution all funds other than the Millage which are used to support Parks and Recreation system activities shall be considered the same as City’s General Fund support.” The proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 calls for using money from the METRO Act fund and the city’s stormwater fund to pay for certain parks operations, which the city would like to count as general fund support.
The new provision in the policy helps the city’s planned budget for FY 2012 conform with another administrative policy requirement – that the amount of general fund parks support not decrease any more than other parts of the general fund.
A further amendment would have changed the standard of general fund support from one that is based on hard dollars to one that is based on service levels, with FY 2011 as a baseline: “… [T]he General Fund budget supporting the Parks and Recreation system for that year may be reduced by a higher percentage than the average percentage reduction of the total City General Fund budget as long as the FY11 level of service within Parks and Recreation system is not materially reduced.”
That second amendment would have helped the city conform with the policy this year, because the proposed FY 2012 budget called for spending $90,000 less on parks than would otherwise be required if the administrative police were left unamended. The city contends that the $90,000 reduction in expenditures is due to increased efficiency and would not affect service standards. [Chronicle coverage: "Council to Get Reminder of Parks Promise"]
However, that second amendment was stricken by the proposer of the resolution, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), who said he wanted to use the delay in the passage of the budget to find a way to make up the $90,000 differential – that would allow the city’s budget to conform with the policy without changing it.
The city council also revised the 2006 administrative policy during the FY 2010 budget cycle, so that millage funding for the natural area preservation program would not automatically increase by 3% every year.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]