Park Maintenance Millage on Ann Arbor Ballot

Ann Arbor voters will be asked on Nov. 6, 2012 to renew the parks maintenance and capital improvements millage at the rate of 1.1 mills. The vote to place the question on the Nov. 6 ballot was taken by the Ann Arbor city council at its Aug. 9 meeting. It was a unanimous vote.

The city’s park advisory commission had voted at its June 19, 2012 meeting to recommend that the council put the millage renewal on the ballot. The current 1.1 mill tax expires this year. A renewal would run from 2013-2018 and raise about $5 million next year. The recommended allocation of revenues is 70% for park maintenance activities, and 30% for park capital improvement projects. Of that allocation, up to 10% can be shifted between the two categories as needed.

Examples of park maintenance activities include “forestry and horticulture, natural area preservation, park operations, recreation facilities, and targets of opportunity,” according to a staff memo. Capital improvement projects would cover parks, forestry and horticulture, historic preservation, neighborhood parks and urban plazas, park operations, pathways, trails, boardwalks, greenways and watersheds, and recreation facilities.

PAC was first briefed about the millage renewal at its March 22, 2012 meeting. At the time, PAC chair Julie Grand – who served on a working group to strategize about the renewal – said concerns about the economic climate were a major reason why an increase wasn’t being recommended. City parks staff and PAC members subsequently held several public forums about the renewal that were sparsely attended. Technically, the rate of 1.1 is an “increase” inasmuch as the currently authorized millage rate has been reduced from 1.1 mills to 1.0969 by the Headlee Amendment.

The proposed ballot language reads as follows: “Shall the Charter be amended to authorize a tax up to 1.10 mills for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2013 through 2018 to replace the previously authorized tax for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2007 through 2012, which will raise in the first year of the levy the estimated total revenue of $5,052,000.”

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]