Stories indexed with the term ‘fund balance’

AAPS Board Passes 2012-13 Budget

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (June 13, 2012): The Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education passed a $188.96 million budget for the 2012-13 school year, which begins July 1.

AAPS school board at its June 15, 2012 meeting.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools board at its June 15, 2012 meeting.

That budget reflects roughly $4 million in spending cuts compared to last year’s budget, and reflects the elimination or restructuring of some transportation services, a reduction in the budget for substitute teachers, and the consolidation of high school summer school programs.

The approved budget also calls for using $6.54 million, or about one-third, of the district’s current fund equity, which caused trustee Christine Stead to cast her vote against the budget. Stead expressed strong concern that the budget neither allows for incremental expenditure shifts, nor sets the district up for successfully weathering the 2013-14 budget cycle and beyond. “I want us to use our past year’s experience as a data point,” she said, “… [T]o act like we are, with the information we have, is difficult for me to support.”

The June 13 meeting also saw the approval of three special briefing items – a renewal of the district’s food service contract with Chartwells, a resolution to upgrade human resources and finance software, and a set of policy revisions. Special briefing items are reviewed and voted on by the board in a single meeting instead of being entertained as first and second briefing items at two consecutive regular meetings.

Finally, the board approved the contract of Robyne Thompson as the new assistant superintendent of secondary education, and extended the contract held with AFSCME Local 1182, which primarily represents custodians and maintenance workers in the district. [Full Story]

AAPS to Use Savings to Offset Budget Cuts

Ann Arbor Public Schools committee of the whole meeting (Jan. 25, 2012): At the board of trustees committee of the whole (COTW) meeting on Wednesday, trustees agreed on a strategy to dip into fund equity to offset the anticipated $14 million-$16 million deficit facing the district in fiscal year 2012-13. Trustee Andy Thomas won support from his colleagues to use around $7 million in savings to “buy [AAPS] another year without having to make really draconian budget cuts.” Board president Deb Mexicotte called it a “respite year.”


School bus operated for Ann Arbor Public Schools headed north on State Street on Jan 27, 2012. Changes to the way AAPS provides transportation services was a major theme of the AAPS board's Jan. 25 committee meeting.

That led to a vigorous discussion of the district’s immediate and longer-term options to continue to function in a challenging fiscal and political environment beyond 2012-13. “Everything has to be on the table … Education is not going to be the same,” said trustee Susan Baskett.

Mexicotte agreed, saying the time for incremental change has passed, and that the district “might need to make some bold moves.”

As options to consider for the following year, trustees listed the following: redistricting; eliminating 7th hour high school classes; closing schools; sharing principals; passing a countywide enhancement millage; changing high school start times; moving more athletics extracurricular activities to a “club sports” model; increasing the number of online class offerings; changing state law; working with the University of Michigan to allow AAPS students to earn credit hours there at a reduced rate; and moving to a balanced calendar district-wide.

In some detail, the board also evaluated its options for busing – in light of news that the Ypsilanti and Willow Run public schools are considering pulling out of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s transportation consortium. That would leave Ann Arbor as the sole participant in the consortium.

Trustees directed administration to examine and make a recommendation on the following transportation options: improving busing within the current framework of the WISD; consolidating busing with Ypsilanti and Willow Run outside the WISD consolidation; bringing busing back into the AAPS budget with bus drivers remaining public employees; bringing busing back into the AAPS budget but privatizing bus drivers; eliminating busing entirely; or collaborating with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) to transport AAPS students.

Several trustees also made plugs for protecting classrooms from the effect of budget cuts, and even suggested lowering class sizes. AAPS superintendent Patricia Green suggested it was also important to relieve some of the pressure and anxiety felt by teachers and other district staff. “We are at the tipping point,” she said, “Five years of budget cuts can take its toll.”

Also at the Jan 25 COTW meeting, trustees heard updates on the AAPS preschool and family center programs, including some discussion of the county’s relinquishing of its management of the federal Head Start grant. And, the board was briefed on the implementation of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), a new assessment tool the board approved for purchase last May. [Full Story]

AATA 2012 Budget Will Include Deficit

At its Sept. 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board approved its operating budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. In a separate vote, the board also approved the AATA work plan for the year.

The budget calls for expenses of $30,410,616 against only $29,418,995 in revenues, for a deficit in the coming year of $991,621. That shortfall will be made up by drawing on the fund balance. According to the budget resolution, the AATA’s fund balance policy requires it to maintain reserves equal to at least three months’ worth of operating expenses. And the AATA expects to have $1.2 million more in its fund reserve to start the year than that minimum fund balance policy requires. So the projected deficit – which the budget resolution attributes partly to one-time expenses associated with the transportation master plan – is within the $1.2 million excess beyond the minimum three-month reserve, which the AATA holds in its fund balance. [.pdf of AATA 2012 operating budget]

During  deliberations, the four board members present stressed the unique, one-time nature of the deficit budget.

In the most significant categories, the AATA’s revenues break down percentage-wise as follows: 31.4% local transit tax; 29.4% state operating assistance; 18.6% passenger fares; 12.8% federal operating assistance. The AATA also receives some revenue from surrounding municipalities that get transit service through purchase of service (POS) agreements. [2012 AATA revenue pie chart]

In the most significant expense categories, the AATA’s expenses break down percentage-wise as follows: 54.7% employee compensation; 18.2% purchased transportation from other providers; 9.3% other purchased services; 5.7% diesel fuel and gasoline. [2012 AATA expenses pie chart]

In a separate vote, the AATA board also approved the 10-page work plan for the fiscal year. Highlights include reconstruction of the Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor. In terms of increased service, the work plan includes a focus on: establishing the AATA as a vanpool service provider; establishing service to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport; improved work-transportation connections between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; and continued work on commuter rail.

The plan also calls for continued work on the AATA’s information technology, including its website as a communication tool and improved point-of-sale systems to allow people to pay for their fares. [.pdf of work AATA 2012 work plan]

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

City, DDA Continue to Talk Parking, Taxes

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (April 6, 2011): Since June 2010, the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor DDA have been negotiating a new contract under which the DDA would continue to operate the city’s public parking system.

While the city and the DDA have achieved much agreement on the non-monetary details of the arrangement, Wednesday’s board meeting left the financial piece still unclear.

Keith Orr DDA Ann Arbor

Keith Orr pores over the figures under various scenarios for the new contract under which the DDA would operate the public parking system. (Photos by the writer.)

The board discussion included a focus on the contrast between the combined fund reserve of the DDA – which includes those funds it collects as a tax-increment finance authority – and the reserves of just the public parking fund. Sandi Smith, who’s a DDA board member and an Ann Arbor city councilmember, stressed throughout the conversation that it’s not just the overall fund balance, but the public parking fund balance itself that needs to be monitored.

Last week, the board had come to a consensus that the public parking system could absorb a payment to the city equal to 16% of gross parking revenues in every year of a 10-year contract, which represented a revision upward from its previous position of 14% in the first two years, followed by 15% in subsequent years.

After lengthy back-and-forth, the only consensus reached by DDA board members was that they were not prepared to revise their position upward (again) to meet the city’s request that the city be paid 16% of the public parking gross revenues in the first two years of the contract, but 17.5% in remaining years. Mayor John Hieftje, who serves on the DDA board, was the lone voice of support for that position.

The mayor also found himself somewhat isolated on another issue in front of the board at its Wednesday meeting – the only action item on the agenda. The board voted to sign a new, more favorable lease agreement for its roughly 3,000 feet of office space at 150 S. Fifth Ave. for a term of five years.

Although the mayor voted with the rest of the board in authorizing the lease agreement, he had announced at the city council’s Monday, April 4 meeting that he would be asking his fellow DDA members to consider moving into space that’s currently being renovated in the city hall building. Two days later, at Wednesday’s DDA board meeting, the mayor appeared to understand that there was little enthusiasm on the board for the move, based partly on the fact that it would cost the DDA more in the short term.

At the meeting, the board also heard its usual range of reports and communications, including an update from DTE on the addition of a new substation near the Broadway bridge, to meet increased demand for electricity. [Full Story]

New Trustee, AAPS Board Weigh Budget

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (May 12, 2010): Last month, Andy Thomas made a report to the board as a member of the Parent Teacher Organization Council. Now, the PTOC will make those reports to a board that includes Thomas.

Andy Thomas AAPS school board member

Andy Thomas, being sworn-in as the newest trustee of the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education at its May 12 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Thomas replaces long-time member Randy Friedman, who resigned in April.  The selection of Thomas to the board during last Wednesday’s meeting marks the third change in board membership in the past six months. Thomas’ current term will end at the end of the year, and he – along with trustees Simone Lightfoot, Christine Stead, Deb Mexicotte, and Susan Baskett – will need to be re-elected in November to remain on the board.

Also at the meeting, the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students was addressed from multiple perspectives. The proposed Washtenaw Intermediate School District budget was reviewed, and the board was briefed on the district’s finances, sinking fund summer projects, policy updates, and human resources. [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]