Stories indexed with the term ‘fee increase’

Parks Group Applauds “Status Quo” Budget

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (April 16, 2013): After several years of cuts, the city’s parks system anticipates no significant budget changes in fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013.

Graffiti, Argo Pond, Ann Arbor parks & recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Graffiti at Argo Pond. Parks and recreation manager Colin Smith reported that there’s been an increase in graffiti in the parks system. (Photos by the writer.)

Park commissioners were briefed on budget details at their April meeting, and voted unanimously to recommend the budget for approval. The parks budget will be a component of the overall budget that the city council will vote on in mid-May. The public hearing on that budget will be held on May 6. “The message is status quo,” parks and recreation manager Colin Smith told commissioners.

In a separate vote, commissioners recommended raising fees – ranging between 4-9% – for rentals at the Gallup Park meeting room and Cobblestone Farm. It was the first fee increase at these facilities since 2007 and 2006, respectively.

In other action, commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a five-year contract with Coca-Cola Refreshments for cold beverage concessions. It will replace the 10-year contract with Pepsi that expires this summer. Pepsi was the only other bid received by the city for a new contract, but missed the deadline and was disqualified.

Commissioners also recommended that the city award a $535,000 contract to Pranam Global Tech Inc. to replace the nearly 40-year-old roof at Veterans Memorial Park Ice Arena. The project includes a 10% construction contingency of $53,500, bringing the total project budget to $588,500.

Public commentary included an update from advocates of an ice-skating rink at the city-owned Library Lane site, as well as a report from the Library Green Conservancy, which hopes to make the parking lot into a park. [.pdf of Library Green Conservancy report]

Updates from commissioners included ongoing efforts to find a new centrally located dog park, as well as more information-gathering work by the downtown parks subcommittee.

And in his manager’s report, Smith informed commissioners of an increase in spray-painted graffiti in the parks. The staff is collecting data on how much time they spend repairing areas that are hit with graffiti, “and it’s substantial,” he said. Even trees have been tagged, which is unusual, Smith reported. “There have been some rather inappropriate things painted on some very nice trees.” He added: “It’s extremely frustrating … We’re not in the business of providing spray-painting opportunities any more than we are in the business of providing apothecary options for people in the parks. I’ll leave it at that.” [Full Story]

County to Protect More Farmland, Nature Areas

Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission meeting (Feb. 12, 2013): The first meeting of WCPARC in 2013 kicked off when each member received a copy of a half-hour video history of the county park system, in honor of WCPARC’s 40th anniversary.

Miller Creek, Washtenaw County parks and recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A section of Miller Creek runs through a property off of Geddes Road that the Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission might help preserve, in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor. The land is located in Ann Arbor Township. (Photos by the writer.)

Commissioners were then briefed on what WCPARC director Bob Tetens called a record monthly expenditure for his time with the commission: $3.9 million in January 2013, including $2.9 million for parks and recreation – primarily for capital improvements at Rolling Hills, Independence Lake and Sharon Mills parks – and $1 million for natural areas preservation.

Expenditures in January for the natural areas preservation program included acquiring land from the Ford Road Property LLC on the east side of Berry Road in Superior Township; for improvements at Trinkle Marsh, Spike, Hornback, and Nagle preserves; and for phase 1 due diligence on the proposed purchase of the Trolz property in Manchester Township.

The commission also approved taking the next steps on several additional natural areas preservation proposals. Those steps include applying for (1) federal funds to help cover the purchase of development rights on farmland in Superior and Lima townships, and (2) a state grant to help develop the Staebler Farm, located in Superior Township, into an active park. Commissioners also approved the purchase of a conservation easement on 82 additional acres from the Ford Road Property LLC in Superior Township.

Also discussed was a proposal to help the city of Ann Arbor buy the 8-acre Taylor property on Geddes Road, east of Huron Parkway. The land is immediately east of the city’s Ruthven nature area, and is seen as a priority because a section of Miller Creek runs through it. The creek is subject to flash flooding during heavy rains, and has been the focus of stormwater management efforts by the city and the county water resources commissioner. Conan Smith, a county commissioner who also serves on WCPARC, questioned whether this is an appropriate project for the county’s natural areas preservation program. He indicated that it might be better for the city to partner with the water resources commissioner on this project instead.

In other action, commissioners voted to increase fees at WCPARC facilities, including the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, and Independence Lake and Rolling Hills parks. A staff report indicated that the fees would still be lower than comparable public recreation facilities in this region. [.pdf of fee schedule]

WCPARC members were briefed about applications to fund eight projects through the Connecting Communities initiative, under which WCPARC helps pay for non-motorized transportation trails throughout the county. The city of Ann Arbor is among those applicants, asking for $300,000 to fund development of trails along the Allen Creek greenway, including at the city-owned 721 N. Main site. Final decisions will be made at WCPARC’s March meeting.

WCPARC members also re-elected their officers, set the 2013 meeting calendar, and got updates on two months’ worth of activities at the county’s parks and recreation facilities – including a report on flooding at the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center in January, and steps toward developing a new recreation center in Ypsilanti.

The meeting was attended by six of the current nine-member commission. One vacancy remains to be filled on WCPARC by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, which appoints all WCPARC members. A vote on that position is expected at the county board’s Feb. 20 meeting. [Full Story]

UM Tuition to Increase 2.8%, Budget Up 3.9%

University of Michigan’s tuition for students at its Ann Arbor campus will increase 2.8% in the coming year for in-state first- and second-year (lower division) undergraduates – to $12,994 per year – following approval by the board of regents at their June 21, 2012 meeting. Tuition for out-of-state lower division undergraduates will increase 3.5% per year, to $39,122. Most graduate and professional programs would see tuition increases of 3%. Voting against the tuition increases were three regents: Democrats Denise Ilitch and Larry Deitch, and Republican Andrea Fischer Newman.

A year ago, tuition increased 6.7% for in-state undergraduates at the Ann Arbor campus, and 4.9% for out-of-state undergraduates. At the June 2011 regents meeting, Ilitch and Deitch had cast dissenting votes for … [Full Story]

Public Health Fee Increases Finalized

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave final approval to an increase in fees to treat sexually transmitted diseases – one of the mandated services provided by the county’s public health department. The unanimous vote came at the board’s March 21, 2012 meeting, following initial approval at its March 7 meeting. The changes are being made in response to federal funding cuts and an increase in charges for state services.

The board also approved changes at the medical examiner’s office, including fees for organ procurement services provided to the Michigan Gift of Life program, and a new late payment policy. According to a staff memo, about 10% of revenues are not realized because of non-payment. [.pdf of revised fee schedule]

By way of … [Full Story]

County Acts on Budget, Health, Policy Issues

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (March 7, 2012): Although the county board isn’t yet in the heart of discussions for its next two-year budget cycle, the specter of that effort provided a backdrop to action at Wednesday’s meeting. The county faces projected deficits of $11.6 million in 2014 and $14.7 million in 2015.

Jenna Bacolor, Michaelle Rehmann, Al Connor

From left: Jenna Bacolor of the county's public health department, Michaelle Rehmann, Farm to Table director for the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP), and Al Connor of the Michigan Farmers Union. All are involved in helping create the Washtenaw Food Policy Council. (Photos by the writer.)

Two items touched directly on salary and compensation. The board gave final approval to an administrative restructuring that’s estimated to save $326,422 annually, and result in the net reduction of four full-time jobs, which are currently vacant. As he did for the initial vote on Feb. 15, commissioner Ronnie Peterson voted against the restructuring, objecting to a 4% increase that will be given to four top managers in a new cross-lateral team, as a result of their job reclassification. Though the county uniformly gives a 4% raise when any job is reclassified, Peterson argued that the county’s leadership should set an example and that the raises will make it more difficult to ask for concessions in future union negotiations in 2014-15.

Also related to upcoming budgets, commissioner Dan Smith presented a draft proposal that would cut compensation for commissioners in 2013-2014. Overall, the proposal would cut total compensation (salary and benefits) by 5.7% per commissioner – from the current $20,213 to a proposed $19,063. He plans to present a formal resolution at the April 4 meeting. The timing would allow the board to make a decision before the May 15 filing deadline for county board candidates.

Another budget-related item came from the public health department, which proposed fee increases to treat sexually transmitted diseases – one of the mandated services provided by the county. The changes, which were approved unanimously, are being made in response to federal funding cuts and an increase in charges for state services. Though he voted in favor of the increases, Peterson raised concerns about the impact on low-income residents. Dick Fleece, director of the public health department, assured the board that no one would be refused treatment because of the inability to pay.

Public health staff also presented an item with almost no budget impact: A proposal to create the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, with the goal of supporting and coordinating activities in the county’s food system. Partners who’ve been working on this initiative include the Y of Ann Arbor, Growing Hope, Food Gatherers, the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP), Slow Food Huron Valley, Eat Local/Eat Natural, Michigan Farmers Union, and the Ypsilanti Food Coop. A final vote is expected on March 21.

The board also acted on items related to public safety. They voted to accept a $177,500 state grant from the state’s Economic Vitality Incentive program (EVIP), which provides incentives for local governments to collaborate and combine operations. The grant will help pay for work related to dispatch consolidation between the county sheriff’s office and the city of Ann Arbor.

And in a vote to clear up a procedural move, the board authorized a merger of its countywide 800 megahertz (MHz) emergency communications system with the Michigan Public Safety Communication System. The county’s 800 MHz system is paid for through a 10-year, 0.20-mill tax that Washtenaw County voters approved in May 2006. At the time, the plan called for eventually merging with the statewide system.

During the opportunity for commissioners to raise items of discussion, Wes Prater noted that at the Ann Arbor city council’s March 5 meeting, a four-party agreement to establish a framework for a possible countywide transit system was approved. Prater urged the board to begin discussing the issue, too. [In addition to Ann Arbor, the four parties include the city of Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. Ann Arbor city council was the first entity to approve the accord, doing so after postponing action on it three times and deliberating for over 3.5 hours at Monday's meeting. See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Council OKs Transit Agreement"]

A working session for commissioners to address the four-party agreement has been set for Thursday, March 22.

Prater also wondered why the board hadn’t received any reports from the county treasurer recently. The treasurer, Catherine McClary, gave a 2010 annual treasurer’s report to commissioners early last year, at their Feb. 16, 2011 meeting, but has not yet submitted the 2011 annual report. Board chair Conan Smith asked county administrator Verna McDaniel to contact the treasurer’s office and request a report. [Full Story]

County OKs Public Health Fee Increases

An increase in fees to treat sexually transmitted diseases – one of the mandated services provided by the county’s public health department – was given initial approval by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at their March 7, 2012 meeting. The changes are being made in response to federal funding cuts and an increase in charges for state services.

The board also approved changes at the medical examiner’s office, including fees for organ procurement services provided to the Michigan Gift of Life program, and a new late payment policy. According to a staff memo, about 10% of revenues are not realized because of non-payment. [.pdf of revised fee schedule]

By way of background, the adult clinic – which treats sexually transmitted … [Full Story]

Washtenaw Public Health Dept. to Cut Jobs

A net of nearly seven full-time positions will be eliminated in the 2011-2012 public health budget that was given initial approval by Washtenaw County commissioners at their Sept. 7, 2011 meeting.

The $11,839,496 budget, which will receive a final vote at the board’s Sept. 21 meeting, includes a $3,553,575 allocation from the county’s general fund – a net decrease of $583,597 from the previous year. Unlike the county’s general fund budget, which is aligned to the calendar year, the public health budget runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, in sync with the state’s fiscal year.

Though a total of nearly 12 full-time-equivalent positions (a combination of part-time and full-time jobs) will be eliminated in the proposed budget, five positions will … [Full Story]

Fee Increases Suggested for Ann Arbor Golf

At its Feb. 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor park advisory commission voted to recommend several fee increases at Leslie Park and Huron Hills golf courses. Power golf cart rentals for 9 holes would increase from $7 to $8; for 18 holes, the rental fee would increase from $13 to $14. Staff estimates these changes will generate $25,000 in additional revenue per season. Weekend fees for 9 and 18 holes at Leslie Park Golf Course would increase by $2 and $1, respectively, and the twilight fee would increase to $16, up from $15. These changes would generate an estimated additional $12,500 in revenue per season. In addition, the commission approved raising the senior citizen qualification age to 59 for the 2011 season.

This brief was filed from the park advisory commission meeting at the Washtenaw County administration building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]