Ann Arbor Library Board Supports State St. CIA

In a 6-1 vote taken at its Nov. 11, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor District Library board voted to approve a tax-sharing agreement for Pittsfield Township’s State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA). Trustee Nancy Kaplan cast the lone dissenting vote, saying she couldn’t support diverting dollars that taxpayers had intended for the library.

Unless the governing body of a taxing jurisdiction opts out, the CIA will capture a percentage of taxes from each public entity that collects taxes within the CIA boundaries. The new authority is expected to help fund about $30 million in improvements on State Street over 20 years, roughly between Ellsworth Road and Michigan Avenue. The intent is to create a four-lane boulevard with a median, bike lanes and pedestrian pathways. Under the CIA’s tax increment financing (TIF) plan, 50% of the increase in taxable value would be captured over a 20-year period to fund the CIA projects. [.pdf of TIF plan]

Currently, AADL receives about $8,536 in taxes from taxpayers in the proposed CIA boundaries. Over the 20 years, it’s estimated that $120,436 in AADL tax revenue would be diverted to the CIA.

The AADL board has discussed this issue at two previous meetings – on Oct. 21, 2013 and Sept. 16, 2013. Taxing entities have a 60-day period in which to make an opt-out decision. That period began with an Oct. 9 public hearing held by the Pittsfield Township board, and will end in early December.

Although other trustees indicated that they shared Kaplan’s concerns, they were persuaded to support the CIA for several different reasons. Margaret Leary said she appreciated the transparency and openness of township officials during this process. She noted that in contrast to some other TIF arrangements, the tax-sharing agreement with the CIA is clear, comprehensive and was developed in a collaborative way. [Her reference to other TIF arrangements was likely an allusion to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. See Chronicle coverage: "Library View on DDA TIF Capture: Unchanged"]

Leary also pointed out that the CIA will create a situation that could benefit the AADL, which operates a branch in Pittsfield Township. If the overall tax base increases because of improvements to the State Street corridor, she said, then tax revenues for AADL will increase too. Barbara Murphy added that the amount of AADL tax revenue that will be diverted to the CIA is relatively small, compared to some other taxing entities.

Two people addressed the board during public commentary about the CIA. Prior to the vote, Christina Lirones – a former Pittsfield Township official – urged the board to opt out. At the end of the meeting, Don Salberg said he was disappointed in the board’s decision. He had expected AADL to opt out.

In addition to AADL, other jurisdictions that levy taxes within the CIA boundaries are: Pittsfield Township, Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County parks & recreation, Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (metro parks), Washtenaw Community College, and Saline District Library.

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners voted on Nov. 6, 2013 to approve a tax-sharing agreement with Pittsfield Township and the State Street CIA, outlining details of the county’s participation. The county parks & recreation commission also voted to support the CIA. About $3.8 million in county tax dollars is estimated to be captured during the 20-year period.

The Washtenaw Community College board of trustees is holding a special meeting on Nov. 12, with one of its agenda items listed as the CIA. If WCC participates, about $3 million of its taxes would be captured over the 20-year period.

Also on Nov. 12, the Saline District Library board is holding a special meeting where it’s expected to vote to opt out of the CIA. According to Leslee Niethamer, director of the Saline District Library, the board voted in August to opt out of the CIA. However, because the process requires that notification be given during the 60-day period that began Oct. 9, the board plans to vote again on this issue at its Nov. 12 special meeting. The same outcome is expected. If the Saline District Library remained in the CIA, about $900,000 of the library’s tax revenue would be diverted to the CIA over 20 years.

The next meeting of the Huron Clinton Metro Authority board is Nov. 14. The full agenda for that meeting has not yet been posted.

This brief was filed from the fourth floor conference room of the downtown library at 343 S. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow: [link]