DDA Submits FY 2015 Budget to City

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board has voted to submit its budget for fiscal year 2015 to the city of Ann Arbor. DDA board action came at the board’s March 5, 2014 meeting.

The budget shows $19.3 million in revenues from the public parking system and $4.8 million in tax increment finance capture. Overall, it shows $24,237,186 in revenues against $26,531,972 in expenses. The use of fund balance to cover the difference leaves the DDA with an estimated fund balance at the end of FY 2015 of about $3.3 million. FY 2015 runs from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. [FY 2015 DDA budget breakdown]

The expense include $353,344 in salaries and $245,894 in fringe benefits for four staff members, $7,075,571  in payments  to Republic Parking for management of the public parking system, and $2.1 million for parking facility maintenance. Accounting for $3.19 million of the expenses is a payment made to the city of Ann Arbor, equal to 17% of the gross revenues to the public parking system.

The budget also includes $676,000 for support of the getDowntown program, as well as $300,000 in discretionary spending from parking revenues. Included in the budget is a $200,000 grant to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission – as part of a $600,000 request from AAHAC to support improvements to Baker Commons and Miller Manor. Based on board discussion at the March 5 meeting, the DDA is looking to meet that grant request in $200,000 payments over three years.

The budget also includes $449,500 for a down payment on a possible elevator replacement at the southwest corner of the parking structure at Fourth & William, as well as possible debt payments on that project. The project is estimated to cost on the order of $3 million, depending on whether it’s eventually approved by the board and the scope and staging of the improvements (which could include exterior cladding, awnings, and electronic real-time information signs for bus arrivals). Very preliminary drawings were provided to the DDA’s operations committee at its Feb. 26 meeting. That preliminary work was authorized by the DDA board at its Jan. 8, 2014 meeting. The team from Carl Walker Inc. will follow up with more detailed drawings and cost estimates for various options.

In taking the step first to submit the budget for approval by the city council, the DDA board is this year following the state’s enabling legislation for downtown development authorities: “Before the budget may be adopted by the board, it shall be approved by the governing body of the municipality.” In this case, the governing body is the Ann Arbor city council.

This is the first time in several years that the statutory procedure has been followed from the start. Last year, the DDA board first voted at its Feb. 6, 2013 meeting to adopt its FY 2014 budget (for the current fiscal year). That came in advance of the city council’s approval on May 20, 2013 of the city’s FY 2014 budget, which includes the DDA as a component unit

The pattern followed last year – adoption by the DDA board of its budget in advance of the city council’s approval – had been the prevailing custom for several years. But the council decided at its May 20, 2013 meeting to revise the DDA’s budget in a way that made it significantly different from the one the DDA board had approved three months earlier. In addition to recognizing an additional $568,000 in tax increment finance revenue (TIF), the council’s action transferred an additional $300,000 from the DDA’s TIF fund to the DDA’s housing fund.

Then at the DDA board’s June 5, 2013 meeting, a vote was taken to re-adopt the FY 2014 budget that had been approved by the city council.

The council’s $300,000 transfer from the TIF fund into the housing fund was echoed in the revision the council made on Nov. 18, 2013 last year to the local law regulating the Ann Arbor DDA. The following passage was added:

Tax increment financing seed funds for the Housing Fund shall be budgeted effective tax year 2016 at an amount no less than $300,000. Every year thereafter the minimum amount budgeted shall be adjusted at the same rate of increase as the increase in the total TIF capture. …

The 2016 tax year corresponds to the 2017 fiscal year. So the $300,000 figure is not required by law for another two years. At the March 5, 2014 board meeting, however, the budget was amended to add $100,000 to the housing fund expenditure line, at the request of board member Bob Guenzel. He’s long championed the cause of affordable housing and wanted to give the board some additional flexibility to spend additional money on that area, without making a mid-year budget change. Such a mid-year change would, based on remarks at the  meeting, require city council approval.

In addition to the $200,000 grant to the AAHC, other housing fund expenditures for FY 2015 include $75,000 for a housing needs assessment.

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