A $1,224,311 budget for the Ann Arbor skatepark was recommended for approval by the Ann Arbor park advisory commission at its June 18, 2013 meeting. As part of that, a construction contract of $1,031,592 with Krull Construction of Ann Arbor was recommended. The project, which has been years in the works, will move to the city council for final approval, possibly at its July 15 meeting.
Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Feb. 21, 2013): The board’s meeting was relatively uneventful, but included a routine application for state funding – which this year contains a message of measured support for transit funding in Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget.
The resolution approved by the board includes the AATA’s view that “an increased level of state transit funding such as has been proposed by Governor Snyder would assist AATA in maintaining existing service and operating expanded transit service to satisfy the expressed public demand …” To increase funding for transportation as a general category by $1.2 billion – including roads, bridges and public transportation – Snyder’s budget would rely on proposed increases to the state’s gasoline tax and to vehicle registration fees.
The Michigan state constitution requires that 90% of all fuel taxes be used to fund the maintenance of streets, roads and bridges designed for motor vehicles that use tires. Part of the remaining 10% can be used to fund public transportation operating expenses. Partly as a function of the overall increase, Snyder’s budget would increase the amount of local operating assistance for transit agencies statewide from around $166 million for each of the past two years to about $181 million.
The AATA’s estimated budget for the next fiscal year (2014) is being reported to the state of Michigan as totaling $33,653,000. Those total expenses would be covered by the following breakdown of revenue estimates: federal funds ($4,276,104); state funds ($9,939,035); local funds ($12,088,861); fare revenue ($7,258,000); and other funds ($91,000). The AATA’s current year’s budget – for FY 2013, which ends on Sept. 30 – calls for $32,700,181 in expenditures.
The AATA’s portion of the $166 million in state operating assistance last fall took an unexpected roughly $800,000 dip around the time the AATA set its budget for the current fiscal year. The reduction in funding relates to the way the state’s formula applies when spending is reduced by other transit agencies in the AATA’s category. AATA CEO Michael Ford told the board at its Feb. 21 meeting that he’d been to Lansing and had received assurance that an additional appropriations bill – which is currently the “placeholder” bill SB 126 – is likely to be passed, and would restore the $800,000.
Meanwhile, the most recent financial update through the first four months of the 2013 fiscal year – which started in October – shows the AATA with a slight positive variance. But the AATA is operating with a level of cash reserves that equates to about 2.88 months of operating expenses. Board policy is to keep a minimum of 3 months’ worth reserves on hand. Notes to the treasurer’s report indicate that for the year, the AATA now expects about $160,000 less in fare revenues that it had budgeted – based on fewer rides being taken by University of Michigan affiliates than the AATA had projected.
Besides authorizing the application to the state of Michigan for state operating assistance, the board authorized two contracts in connection with construction on the new downtown Ann Arbor Blake Transit Center – one for the elevator and the other for millwork. Both contracts were under the project’s budgeted amount for those items.
The board also approved a contract for the printing of its RideGuide, a printed version of its schedules. Also authorized was a contract to perform environmental cleanup from a gas line that had been seeping at the AATA’s facility on South Industrial Highway.
Updates at the meeting included notes on the board’s upcoming retreat, which is to include a discussion of AATA customer needs. That led to comments from the public asking the board to think about who the AATA’s customers actually are.
During the meeting, the board also held a closed session to conduct a performance review for CEO Michael Ford.
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (April 7, 2010): At its regular Wednesday meeting, the full board of the DDA endorsed a draft of the parking report it has been asked to submit to the city council by April 19, when the council next meets. Before it’s sent to the city council, the report will possibly undergo some minor tweaking at the DDA’s partnerships committee meeting next Wednesday, April 14.
Though not addressed by the board as business items, two areas of controversy emerged during public commentary.
One involves the award of a bid as part of the DDA’s construction of the underground parking garage along Fifth Avenue. The contract for construction management for the entire project was awarded to The Christman Co. However, under the terms of the contract, Christman must bid out various components of the project, like the concrete work – even though Christman has the capability of doing that work itself.
The low bid for the concrete work was submitted by Granger Construction Co., at $21.5 million. But Christman awarded the contract to Christman Constructors Inc., which had submitted a bid of $22 million. Christman’s selection as construction manager of the project had been finalized at the DDA board’s Nov. 4, 2009 meeting with a guaranteed maximum price of $44,381,573. Representatives of Christman and Granger aired their differing points of view on the concrete bid at Wednesday’s meeting, with DDA board chair John Splitt concluding that he was satisfied the process had been fair.
The other point of controversy arising during public commentary is the probable $2 million payment this year by the DDA to the city of Ann Arbor – which it has no obligation to make under its current parking agreement with the city. The city’s budget book for FY 2011, released on Monday, does not factor in a payment from the DDA. Instead, it shows a $1.5 million shortfall for the year. The DDA’s parking report to the city council hints at the possibility that the DDA would take responsibility for the ticketing of parking violations. That change in enforcement could be included in the renegotiation of the parking agreement.
Other business transacted by the board on Wednesday included a resolution calling on the city council to revise its sign ordinance so that downtown merchants could use sandwich board signs legally. A recent attempt to revise the ordinance by the council was voted down at its Feb. 16, 2010 meeting.