Ann Arbor DDA OKs $300K for County Annex

Washtenaw County will be receiving $300,000 from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority as a result of DDA board action taken at its Sept. 4, 2013 meeting.

The resolution approved by the DDA board on a unanimous vote states that the money will support renovations to the building at 110 N. Fourth in Ann Arbor (known as the Annex) so that it can house the county’s Community Support & Treatment Services (CSTS) department. [.pdf of DDA resolution on Annex] The cost of the renovations at the Annex, which would include a new lobby and “client interaction” space, would be about $1 million, according to the DDA board resolution.

CSTS provides a variety of client services to individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders. The Annex has housed the county’s office of community and economic development, office of infrastructure management, and the public defender’s office. In the space plan approved by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its July 10, 2013 meeting, those offices are being moved to other leased and county-owned space.

When the county board approved the renovations associated with the county’s space plan, they were briefed that the total cost of all the renovations – not limited to those at the Annex – would be around $5 million. At the time Greg Dill, the county’s infrastructure management director, said no general fund dollars would be used for the projects. Funding would come from several sources, Dill explained: (1) $1 million from the 1/8th mill fund balance; (2) $650,000 from the facilities operations & maintenance fund balance; (3) $650,000 from the office of community & economic development reserves; (4) $500,000 from the tech plan fund balance; and (5) $2.2 million from the county’s capital reserves.

According to the county’s website about the space plan, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization (WCHO) – which has a contract with CSTS to provide treatment services – was planning to fund the entire build-out of the Annex as well as the relocation of CSTS staff to the Annex.

The DDA became involved when county administrator Verna McDaniel and other senior staff met with DDA executive director Susan Pollay within the past few weeks to talk about how the DDA might help address the county’s projected structural budget deficit of $3.9 million in 2014. The county pays the DDA nearly $400,000 annually for parking permits, and had proposed the possibility of opening up a long-term parking agreement to renegotiate that amount. McDaniel told The Chronicle that the DDA proposed offering the grant for the Annex renovations instead.

Bob Guenzel, former Washtenaw County administrator, is a member of  the DDA board. Guenzel was absent from the Sept. 4 meeting but the resolution was unanimously approved by the seven board members who were present. That’s the minimum number the board needs to establish a quorum on the 12-member body.

This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301, where the DDA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report of the meeting will follow: [link]