Stories indexed with the term ‘DDA-city relations’

Sandi Smith Takes DDA Baton from Gunn

Sandi Smith has been elected chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The board took the action at its annual meeting, which followed its regular monthly board meeting on July 3, 2013. Smith’s election as chair followed the board’s custom of electing its vice chair to the position of chair for the next year.

Other board officers elected included John Mouat as vice chair, Keith Orr as secretary, and Roger Hewitt as treasurer.

One of Smith’s first challenges leading the board will be to resolve an outstanding issue over the way the DDA administers Chapter 7 of the city code of Ann Arbor – which regulates the DDA’s tax increment finance … [Full Story]

DDA OKs Council-Approved FY 2014 Budget

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board has re-adopted its FY 2014 budget, after it was approved, with changes, by the city council on May 20, 2013. The DDA board action came on June 5, 2013.

The decision came over dissent from two board members – John Mouat and Sandi Smith, who perceived the city council’s changes to the budget as arbitrary. They criticized the process – which is set forth by the state’s enabling legislation for downtown development authorities.

During the council’s debate on the city’s budget, of which the DDA is a component unit, councilmembers had argued about how to handle the additional tax increment finance (TIF) revenue that will be captured by the DDA this year. In the … [Full Story]

DDA-City Development Ideas

On Monday morning, the respective “mutually beneficial” committees (MBCs) of the city council and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority continued their work on renegotiating the parking agreement under which the DDA manages the city’s parking system.

The discussion provided some clarity about what’s feasible with respect to the DDA’s role in enforcing parking regulations. And though parking enforcement appeared ready to slide completely off the table at the last committee meeting due to practical concerns, it appears now that the issue could be back in play, at least from the perspective of technical feasibility.

Concerns of Main Street merchants were also aired at the meeting, with Maura Thomson, executive director of the Main Street Area Association, addressing the two committees to suggest that any additional payment by the DDA to the city be partially earmarked for downtown public safety – that is, downtown police patrols.

But the highlight of the meeting was a more fleshed-out version of an outline that DDA executive director Susan Pollay provided, which describes a process by which the DDA would lead the community in comprehensive site-planning for the downtown’s city-owned surface parking lots, based on work that’s been done over the last half-decade – including the Calthorpe process, the A2D2 rezoning process, and the downtown plan.

DDA board member Russ Collins wanted to know if the process addressed any specifics regarding payments from the DDA to the city. Pollay responded to Collins by acknowledging that DDA board member Newcombe Clark – who does not serve on the DDA’s MBC – was keen to see the DDA purchase land from the city as part of the process. She indicated that would be a topic addressed by the DDA at its retreat, scheduled for Sept. 22.

However, the focus for Monday morning’s meeting, said Pollay, was not on the idea of land purchases, but rather on a comprehensive site-planning process: If the process feels like it resonates, she said, then the discussion could move on later to include land purchases. City councilmember Carsten Hohnke then zeroed in on a crucial question: “How do we come to a conclusion it’s resonating?” [Full Story]

DDA to Tie $2 Million to Public Process

At their Wednesday morning meeting, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s operations committee decided to recommend to the full board that the DDA pay the city of Ann Arbor $2 million. The payment is not legally required of the DDA under terms of an existing parking agreement that was struck in 2005.

A draft of the resolution with the recommendation was to be sent to all board members for review late Wednesday. If the full DDA board approves the resolution at its next meeting on May 5, city councilmembers who are up for re-election this year may not have to campaign under the shadow of police and firefighter layoffs. The $2 million from the DDA would allow the city council some flexibility in amending the FY 2011 city budget, before it is adopted at the council’s second meeting in May. That budget was formally introduced at the council’s April 19 meeting and showed a roughly $1.5 million deficit. It also included some police and firefighter layoffs.

But how much of the $2 million will be put towards avoiding layoffs versus offsetting the deficit is far from clear. Two city councilmembers attended the DDA operations committee meeting: Sandi Smith, who also serves on the DDA board; and Margie Teall, who serves on the council’s sub-committee appointed for the purpose of renegotiating the parking agreement between the city and the DDA. Last year, the city council and the DDA board each appointed a committee for the purpose of renegotiating that agreement.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Smith said it was not certain whether layoffs could be avoided with the $2 million payment or if so, how many could be avoided. Smith’s contention that there was no guarantee the $2 million would avert layoffs came in response to one of several sharp questions put to his fellow DDA board members by Newcombe Clark. Clark began the discussion by asking if the $2 million was tied to anything.

In the course of the discussion, it was made clear that the $2 million would be tied neither to a promise of no layoffs at the city, nor made contingent in any way on specific progress towards a renegotiation of the parking agreement between the DDA and the city.  It would also not be tied to the implementation of any part of a “term sheet” that will form the basis of the city-DDA discussions in the coming months.

Key aspects of that “term sheet” are the idea that regular payments will be made to the city, that the DDA will assume some responsibility for parking enforcement, and that the city will be “held harmless” in any revenue loss associated with cessation of its enforcement activities.

But by the end of the discussion, Clark had eked out a victory of sorts: a provision in the draft resolution that ties the $2 million to a public process, from this point forward, for the city-DDA negotiations. They have been going on a few months now out of public view. In that regard, the resolution can be fairly be analyzed as a fresh commitment to the committee structure, with its associated expectations of public process, that the two bodies had already adopted, but not implemented for discussing the parking agreement. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor DDA Barely Passes Budget

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (March 3, 2010): The DDA board approved its $25 million budget for 2010-11 on Wednesday, but just barely. Four dissenting voices, plus mayor John Hieftje’s absence from the meeting, meant that the budget received the bare minimum seven votes required for approval by the 12-member body.

Keith Orr Map Man

The DDA board talked about more than just the budget. Who was that map man? As the nameplate says, it's DDA board member Keith Orr, who was introducing a draft of a bicycle map that the DDA is working on. (Photos by the writer).

Deliberations covered a range of issues. First, the budget needs to accommodate two major DDA capital projects: the underground parking garage currently under construction; and the Fifth Avenue and Division Street improvements, which are also underway.

Second, there’s a contingency written into the budget for $2 million. The contingency is there in case renegotiation of the parking agreement between the city and the DDA results in a continuation of the $2 million payments made by the DDA to the city for each of the last five years. Continuation of the payments is not legally required under terms of the current agreement, which assigns responsibility for administration of the city’s parking system to the DDA through 2015.

Third, the fund balances of the DDA – which reflect the DDA’s reserves – face a dramatic reduction. That’s an issue that city of Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford flagged back in the spring of 2009 during discussions about the construction of the underground parking garage. The concern caused the city council to scale back the size of the garage by 100 parking spaces.

And finally, decisions made by the DDA board over the last year have resulted in re-direction of revenues from two surface parking lots – 415 W. Washington and the old YMCA lot at Fifth and William – to the city of Ann Arbor. That has resulted in the elimination of line items for DDA programs for next year that were in this year’s budget.

Besides the budget, the board also discussed a number of other topics, including development of the Library Lot and results from two parking surveys. [Full Story]