Stories indexed with the term ‘appointment’

Re-Vote: Al McWilliams Still on DDA Board

A reconsideration of Al McWilliams’ appointment to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has resulted in the same council vote as the previous one – a 6-5 tally in favor of appointment. The initial vote was taken on Sept. 16. The re-vote was taken at the council’s Oct. 21 meeting.

Al McWilliams

Al McWilliams attended the Oct. 2, 2013 meeting of the DDA board and voted on the one agenda item. This photo is from Chronicle coverage of that meeting.

The Sept 16 vote came after mayor John Hieftje stated during deliberations on Sept. 3 – as McWilliams’ confirmation that night appeared not to … [Full Story]

Council on DDA: Delay on TIF, OK McWilliams

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Sept. 16, 2013): Of the roughly 3.5-hour session, about an hour was devoted to two separate items that were added to the agenda the day of the Monday meeting.

Mike Anglin (Ward 5), city administrator Steve Powers

From left: city administrator Steve Powers and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). (Photos by the writer.)

One of those late agenda additions was a confirmation vote of Al McWilliams’ appointment to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board. The vote tally was 6-5, which was declared sufficient for confirmation. However, the city attorney is still reviewing the possibility that the confirmation required an eight-vote majority, under the council’s rules.

The debate on that item came late in the meeting, because that’s where nominations and appointments are slotted on the agenda template, based on the council’s current rules. But that will change in the future – due to a change in the council’s rules that was also on the Sept. 16 agenda. The council adopted some revisions to the rules that were three months in the works. Those included: adding an opportunity for public commentary to work sessions; changing the order of the agenda to move nominations and appointments for boards and commissions to a slot toward the start in the meeting; and prohibiting the use of personal electronic communications devices while at the council table.

Also related to the DDA on the Sept. 16 council agenda was the final approval of revisions to the city ordinance regulating the DDA’s tax increment finance (TIF) capture. The council again put off a vote on the question, which was given initial approval five and a half months ago – on April 1. The question was put off this time until Oct. 21.

The initially-approved amendments to Chapter 7 of the city code include various changes to governance, including term limits for board members, as well as clarifications to the existing language on TIF capture. The initially-approved amendments would enforce the existing language of the ordinance in a manner that would impact the DDA’s TIF revenue in a way roughly matching the DDA’s projected revenues in its 10-year planning document.

At the council’s Sept. 16 meeting, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) sketched out a different conceptual approach to the way the TIF capture is constrained. It’s an approach being developed by a joint committee of councilmembers and DDA board members as a “dual track” to the ordinance revisions currently under consideration.

Under the existing ordinance language, the amount of DDA TIF capture is calibrated to projections in the DDA TIF plan, which is a foundational document for the DDA. The different conceptual approach would establish a basis level for the maximum captured taxable value in the DDA district – a “cap” on TIF revenue – and then set some clearly defined annual increase, keyed to a specific percentage or some variant of a consumer price index (CPI).

A working document used by the joint committee at its Sept. 10 meeting showed two basic scenarios, one of which could roughly mimic the TIF revenue levels that would be provided under the current proposal, while the other might not provide any practical cap.

The second item added to the Sept. 16 agenda on the same day as the meeting was reconsideration of a vote on fossil fuel divestment taken by the council at its previous meeting, on Sept. 3. At that meeting, the council had voted 5-4 on a resolution calling on its employee retirement system to divest from fossil fuel companies. That tally defeated the resolution because it failed to achieve the necessary six votes on the 11-member council.

However, Margie Teall (Ward 4) voted with the prevailing side – one of the votes against it – giving her the right to bring a motion for reconsideration, which the council passed at its Sept. 16 meeting. But on the fossil fuel divestment resolution itself, after about 45 minutes of debate, the council voted to postpone the matter – until its Oct. 21 meeting.

In other business, the council approved the site plan for an expansion of a Honda testing facility, north of Ellsworth on Research Park Drive. The council also approved the rental of 8 extra trucks to supplement the city’s fleet during fall leaf collection season, at a cost of $117,200. It’s an annual expenditure.

Also on Sept. 16, the council formally accepted the final report of the North Main Huron River corridor task force.

The council also heard an update from Ann Arbor police chief John Seto on the preliminary assessment of newly implemented street closures for University of Michigan home football games. That preliminary assessment did not include any major problems, but Seto indicated that he wouldn’t draw conclusions until after a community meeting that’s being held to get additional feedback. That meeting takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. at Pioneer High School. [Full Story]

Positions Open: New Transit Authority Board

Articles of incorporation for a new Act 196 transit authority, called The Washtenaw Ride, were filed with the state last week, on Oct. 3, 2012. The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority had hoped the new authority’s board would convene on Oct. 11, but that meeting was cancelled because key appointments to that board have not yet been made.

Simultaneous service on the 15-member Washtenaw Ride (Act 196) board and the AATA board generated legal questions.

Simultaneous service on the 15-member Washtenaw Ride (Act 196) board and the seven-member AATA board generated legal questions. (Illustration by The Chronicle.)

It was previously assumed that the seven Ann Arbor appointments to the new authority’s 15-member board would serve simultaneously on AATA’s board. Now, it appears that different appointments will be made.

Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje wrote late Friday afternoon: “On Monday night [at the council's Oct. 15 meeting] I will put out a call for applications to serve on the 196 Board. I will not be appointing anyone to that board who would also sit on the AATA Board.”

An application for all city boards and commissions is available on the city clerk’s website.

An informal 15-member group has been meeting as the board of the unincorporated authority for around a year. Some members of the AATA board and many others had assumed that upon incorporation, the informal group would become automatically installed as the board of the new Act 196 authority. However, that won’t be the case. Ann Arbor’s seven representatives to the new authority’s board first need to be nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the city council – under terms of a four-party agreement ratified between the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the AATA.

More significantly, according to several sources, the apparent current view of the Ann Arbor city attorney’s office is that service on the AATA board is not legally compatible with simultaneous service on the board of the new transit authority. So appointing seven Ann Arbor members to the new authority’s board would require nominating seven individuals who are different from those who might continue to serve on the seven-member AATA board.

Another issue apparently identified by the city attorney’s office is the fact that Act 196 of 1986 refers to an additional 30-day window for a jurisdiction in the county to opt out of inclusion in the new transit authority – a window that has not yet opened. Letters of notification sent by the AATA in late September to all jurisdictions in the county referred to a statutory 30-day window starting with the filing of the articles of incorporation. But Act 196 also requires that the new transit authority itself notify jurisdictions, which also triggers a 30-day window for opting out. The statute makes clear that it’s the later of the two windows that is relevant. Because the new transit authority does not yet have a seated board, it has not yet acted to notify jurisdictions countywide.

In any case, some jurisdictions have already opted out of the new Act 196 authority. The Northfield Township clerk’s office responded to a Chronicle phone query with confirmation that on Oct. 9, the township board decided to withdraw from the new authority on a 4-0 vote. The Chronicle has as-yet-unconfirmed reports that the boards of Salem Township and Manchester Township have also voted to opt out.

Another wrinkle: The change in composition of the Ann Arbor city council after the Nov. 6 election. Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) has told The Chronicle that he would like to pursue the possibility of Ann Arbor opting out – and he thinks there might be six votes on the new council to accomplish that. If Ann Arbor opted out, it would effectively end the initiative. [Full Story]

Robben Resigns from AATA Board

In a Nov. 10, 2011 resignation letter sent to mayor John Hieftje, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board member Rich Robben wrote that he would be serving on the seven-member board only through January 2012. [.pdf of Nov. 10, 2011 Robben email]

The Jan. 19, 2012 AATA board meeting will be Robben’s last. The news of Robben’s resignation was included in the information packet for the meeting, in the form of AATA CEO Michael Ford’s regular written report to the board. Ford wrote: “The organization has benefited greatly from Rich’s stewardship and tireless service …”

Robben’s re-appointment to a four-year term on the AATA board was confirmed by the Ann Arbor city council on May 2, 2011. But in his resignation … [Full Story]

AAPS Weighs Schools of Choice Program

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (March 10, 2010): Christine Stead, a business management consultant in the health care industry, was sworn in as a member of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) board of education Wednesday after receiving a four-vote majority in the first and only round of consideration.

Stead Ann Arbor Public Schools

Christine Stead is sworn in after being appointed to fill the opening on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of trustees left by Adam Hollier's resignation. (Photos by the writer.)

Her first vote as a board member was to support the meeting’s consent agenda, including a bid to outsource $135,000 in low-voltage electrical work to a local company.

Also at the meeting, the board heard a recommendation from AAPS superintendent Todd Roberts to open the district to students from all of Washtenaw County. If approved at the next board meeting, this “Schools of Choice” program could result in 170 new students being added to AAPS kindergarten, first, and sixth grade classes, bringing with them an additional $1.1 million in revenue for the upcoming school year.

Bus drivers and custodial/maintenance workers again held signs outside the meeting at the downtown Ann Arbor library, as they have for the last few months. They collected signatures to petition the board not to privatize any AAPS services. They were joined during public commentary by a University of Michigan research scientist, who likened the district’s contention that outsourcing has saved AAPS money to “a rooster getting credit for the sunrise.” Public commentary also included representatives of opposing positions in the local debate over school funding, and both sides called on the board to make fully transparent the decision-making process used to set the upcoming budget.

And, as numerous educators were commended for their service to public education at the meeting, both the board and PTO Council took steps to increase their advocacy efforts at the state level to ensure that funding that level of service can continue. [Full Story]