Stories indexed with the term ‘Google Fiber’

Budget Round 5: Economic Development

Last Monday night, the Ann Arbor city council held its fifth and possibly final meeting devoted exclusively to the city’s financial planning, before it adopts the city’s FY 2011 budget on May 17, 2010. The budget will be formally presented to the city council by city administrator Roger Fraser at its Monday, April 19 meeting.

Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) sets up his presentation on the LDFA.

Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) sets up his presentation on the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) before the start of the April 12 council budget meeting. Rapundalo sits on the LDFA board as the Ann Arbor city council’s representative, and currently chairs the board.

At the April 12 budget meeting, the council heard presentations on two related entities: the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) and Ann Arbor SPARK. The LDFA contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK for various business development services.

The two key themes that emerged from the LDFA presentation were consistent with the overall topic of the city’s budget: (i) Where does the LDFA get its money? and (ii) What does the LDFA spend its money on?

Part of the LDFA’s revenue goes towards economic development activities – a business accelerator – for which it contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK. The presentation to the council from SPARK’s CEO, Michael Finney, was followed by testimonials of companies who said they had benefited from SPARK’s efforts.

Development activities are just one kind of investment that the LDFA could make under its TIF (tax-increment financing) plan. It could also make investments in physical infrastructure. During question time, Sandi Smith (Ward 1) drew out from Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) the possibility that the LDFA could contemplate an investment in a fiber-optic network. Rapundalo, who serves on the LDFA board, indicated that such an LDFA investment might be possible, even if Google does not select Ann Arbor as a test community for its current fiber-optic initiative.

The council also heard from the economic development community about how the name “Ann Arbor” is perceived in the rest of the world.

The part of the council’s meeting dedicated to deliberations on its own budget was comparatively brief. Councilmembers were keen to portray in a positive light a couple of different issues, among them a potential increase in the city’s debt load resulting from a failure to complete a $3 million sale of property at First & Washington, as well as proposed increases in water rates. [Full Story]

19th Monthly Milestone

Editor’s Note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication.

Even though Mary Morgan and I usually alternate writing The Chronicle’s Monthly Milestone column, April marks the third month in a row that I’m providing the update. I’d like to say right up front there’s no scandal in this. It does not reflect an internal struggle for power here at The Chronicle. Although if it did, it’s worth noting that my three-month streak would mean that I am winning. And I’d also like to say right up front: If there were to be an internal struggle for power here at The Chronicle, I would totally win. [No, there will not be a poll at the conclusion of this column, asking readers to weigh in on that.]

More seriously, the alternating authorship of the Monthly Milestone column reflects The Chronicle’s commitment to shared work – internal to our organization. But externally, our strategy for providing coverage of the Ann Arbor community is also partly rooted in sharing the work load.

So this month, I’d like to take a look at how that plays out on The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s website – in the form of reader comments – as well as among The Chronicle and other local media. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Cell Phone Ban Possibly Delayed

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday caucus (March 14, 2010): On the Ann Arbor city council agenda for Monday is the final vote on a proposed city ordinance banning cell phone use while driving. At a sparsely attended Sunday night caucus, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and mayor John Hieftje indicated that a vote on the proposed cell phone ban would likely be postponed.

Other agenda items receiving some discussion were the public hearing scheduled on the Google Fiber initiative, plus a contract revision for Recycle Ann Arbor to perform single-stream curbside recycling using automated carts. [Full Story]

To Do: Bicycle Registry, Transit Station

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (March 1, 2010) Part 2: Editor’s note: The major themes of the council meeting – the 3% budget directive, a ban on use of cell phones while driving, and a planned unit development called The Moravian – are covered in Part 1 of the March 1, 2010 meeting meeting report.

Larry Deck WBWC

Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, addressed the council during the public hearing on the repeal of the city's bicycle registration system. (Photos by the writer.)

The council scrapped the city’s existing bicycle registration program at its Monday night meeting, but gave an assurance to a representative of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition that it would soon be replaced with something better.

Mayor John Hieftje used his communications time to rebut criticism of the planned Fuller Road Station – both with respect to its funding and its siting. While he assured critics that funding for the project would not come from the general fund, he allowed that he did not know how the project would be paid for.

And Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) reiterated enthusiasm for Ann Arbor’s response to a request for information by Google about a local fiber-optic network. He had also introduced the topic at a recent council meeting focusing on the budget.

The city administrator’s report to the council included updates on construction projects.

The city also continued a monthly recognition of its parks volunteers with a mayoral proclamation honoring Praveena and Madhan Ramaswami for their efforts to improve Bromley Park by organizing biannual events to remove invasive plants, plant flowers, and clean up the park. [Full Story]