Stories indexed with the term ‘human services funding’

Urban County Finalizes Funding Model

Washtenaw Urban County executive committee meeting (Nov. 16, 2010): The final piece of a coordinated funding model that’s been in the works for more than a year fell into place on Tuesday, when the Washtenaw Urban County’s executive committee voted unanimously to join the effort.

Mary Jo Callan

At the Nov. 16 meeting of the Urban County, Mary Jo Callan, director of the city of Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County office of community development, reviewed key points of the coordinated model for funding human services. (Photo by the writer.)

Two people – Steve Dobson, past chair of the local United Way board, and community activist Lily Au – spoke to the group during public commentary, taking opposite sides of the issue. But there was little discussion among committee members before the vote. Mary Jo Callan, head of the county/city of Ann Arbor office of community development, briefly recapped a detailed presentation she’d given in September, outlining how Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the Urban County would join with the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and Washtenaw United Way to coordinate their funding to local nonprofits.

The coordinated funding, managed by Callan’s staff, will give priority to programs and services addressing six key areas: housing/homelessness, aging, school-aged youth, children from birth to six, “safety net” health and food/hunger relief. In total, the five funding entities provide about $5 million annually for local human services nonprofits. The Urban County – a consortium of 11 local governments – contributes roughly $350,000 of that amount.

The committee also voted on three items related to affordable housing efforts: 1) implementing “green” construction standards for builders funded with federal HUD dollars, 2) approving a draft budget and annual request for proposals (RFP) for developers of affordable houses funded through the Urban County, and 3) making changes to the budget tracking for the Urban County’s homebuyer program. All votes were unanimous. [Full Story]

Council Plows Ahead With Human Services

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Nov. 4, 2010): At its first meeting of November – held on Thursday instead of the usual Monday to accommodate Tuesday elections – the Ann Arbor city council transacted a fair amount of business in its relatively short session.

Snow Plow

Russell Hanshue, with the city's IT services unit, describes how a sensor attached to a snowplow would record the plow's state as up or down. The city plans to purchase software to monitor remotely the on-board systems of its vehicles. (Photo by the writer.)

That business ranged from authorization of a coordinated human services funding approach to approval of new GIS software.

The coordinated funding approach to human services would extend the collaboration among the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the Urban County to include two nonprofit funders – United Way of Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

The GIS software will allow remote monitoring of engine and system performance on board the city’s vehicle fleet. The vehicle monitoring software has the ancillary benefit of allowing residents to view a real-time map of snowplow activity during a snowfall. At Thursday’s meeting, the council also authorized the purchase of $330,000 worth of road salt that city trucks will, if necessary, spread on the roads this winter.

In other business, the council gave final approval to a new stormwater code, which requires some kind of mitigation any time more than 200 square feet of impervious surface is added in residential areas.

The council again took no action on a $160,000 request from the 15th District Court to purchase furniture. The request had been postponed at the council’s previous meeting, pending production of a list of items to be purchased. The list was not ready, and the issue was again postponed.

The council received a presentation on the installation of a new HAWK pedestrian crossing signal at Chapin and Huron, which was in substance identical to one the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority had received the day before.

A range of topics were addressed during comments from the public, perhaps most significantly remarks from Nicholas Nightwine, who spoke on behalf of the Local 369 AFSCME union on the issue of privatizing the city’s composting operation. The city council is due to hear a presentation at a Monday, Nov. 8 work session on the proposal, which they may vote on as early as Nov. 15. [Full Story]

Despite Concerns, Coordinated Funding OK’d

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 3, 2010): The day after Tuesday’s general election, several newly elected county commissioners attended the board’s meeting, sitting in the audience for now – they’ll be sworn in at the first meeting in January 2011.

Yousef Rabhi, Dan Smith

Yousef Rabhi, left, talks with Dan Smith prior to the Nov. 3 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. Smith, a Republican, beat incumbent Democrat Ken Schwartz in Tuesday's election and will represent District 2 on the county board. Rabhi, a Democrat, was elected to the District 11 seat, defeating Republican Joe Baublis. Also attending the meeting was Republican Alicia Ping, who'll replace her sister Jessica Ping on the board representing District 3. (Photo by the writer.)

Wednesday’s meeting included discussion of the main challenge the next board will face – balancing the county budget. Jennifer Watson, the county’s budget manager, gave a third-quarter update, which shows that the county is projecting a total net surplus of $4.5 million for the year. However, the original budget passed by commissioners for 2010 called for carrying over a surplus of $5.289 million into 2011 – they’re still $773,986 short of that goal.

The board also took an initial vote on a resolution making adjustments to the 2011 general fund budget. Among other things, the resolution directs county administrator Verna McDaniel to make proposals for cutting $1,034,988 out of the original budget of $98,493,155. A public hearing on the 2011 budget adjustments is set for the board’s Nov. 17 meeting.

Other budget-related actions included giving final approval to levy an economic development tax, and an initial vote to make changes in the pension plan for commissioners.

Public commentary at Wednesday’s meeting focused on the coordinated funding model for human services – an effort that the board ultimately approved, though concerns were expressed at length by commissioner Ronnie Peterson. The idea is to formalize a partnership of the Washtenaw United Way, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Washtenaw County, city of Ann Arbor and the Urban County, a consortium of 11 local governments. Allocation of roughly $5 million in funding from these entities will be coordinated by the office of community development, a joint county/city of Ann Arbor department. [The Ann Arbor city council subsequently approved the partnership at its Nov. 4 meeting.] [Full Story]

Washtenaw Launches OpenBook Website

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners working session (Oct. 7, 2010): At its recent working session, the board heard presentations on two topics: 1) a new initiative called OpenBook, which is making more of the county’s financial information available online, and 2) an update on efforts to create a coordinated funding model involving the Washtenaw United Way, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Washtenaw County, the city of Ann Arbor and the Urban County.

Screenshot of Washtenaw County's OpenBook website

A screenshot of Washtenaw County's OpenBook website, which launched this week. (Image links to

Mary Jo Callan, director of the Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community development, gave the coordinated funding update and fielded several questions from commissioners. She’d given a similar presentation at last month’s meeting of the Urban County executive committee.

Andy Brush, the county’s webmaster, made a presentation on the OpenBook project, which launched to the public on Friday. Commissioner Conan Smith questioned the amount of staff time involved in the initiative, and asked that they monitor usage of the site, to determine whether it’s worth the resources they need to invest. His comments earned a sharp rebuke from commissioner Kristin Judge, who has spearheaded the project. Minimal staff time is involved, she said, and taxpayers have a right to this information, noting that the push to transparency was a directive from President Barack Obama. Both Judge and Smith are Democrats. [Full Story]

Coordinated Funding for Nonprofits Planned

A strategy for coordinating major funders of nonprofits in Washtenaw County has been in the works for more than a year, and is now being rolled out to governing boards for approval.

Mary Jo Callan

Mary Jo Callan, director of the Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community development, described a proposed coordinated funding strategy by local governments, United Way of Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation at the Sept. 28 meeting of the Washtenaw Urban County. (Photos by the writer.)

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Washtenaw Urban County executive committee, members were briefed on the proposal, which involves the Washtenaw United Way, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Washtenaw County, city of Ann Arbor and the Urban County. Together, these entities provide about $5 million annually for local human services nonprofits.

Mary Jo Callan, director of the Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community development, told Urban County members that the public/private model would focus funding on six priorities that have been identified for the entire county: housing/homelessness, aging, school-aged youth, children from birth to six, health and food.

The two-year pilot project is grounded in previous coordination between the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the Urban County, a consortium of 11 local governments. The office of community development (OCD), which Callan leads, already manages nonprofit funding for those three entities.

Callan also said this could be a national model for communities that are trying to do a better job of delivering human services with constrained resources.

Some members of the Urban County executive committee, while expressing general support, also raised questions and concerns. How do individual nonprofit agencies fit into the funding model, especially if they don’t provide services in the areas identified as priorities? Will small or new nonprofits be able to compete successfully for funding, or will larger, well-established nonprofits have an overwhelming advantage? How well will the different cultures of United Way, the community foundation and local governments work together, and what roles will they play?

Callan acknowledged these challenges, but noted that many of these same concerns exist under the current, more fragmented funding model. Coordinated funding is the best approach to providing needed services to people in the county, she said.

The Urban County is expected to vote on the proposal at its Oct. 26 meeting. The other groups – including Ann Arbor’s city council – are expected to vote at meetings in late October and early November. Callan will also be making a presentation about the initiative to the county board of commissioners at their Oct. 7 working session. [Full Story]

Zingerman’s Moves on to HDC

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (July 19, 2010): On Monday night, Zingerman’s Deli partners enjoyed complete support with no dissent from the city council, or the community at large, for their plans to expand the Detroit Street location. The council approved the site plan for the 10,000-square-foot addition, as well as a brownfield application.


Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) and Ann Arbor chief of police Barnett Jones chat during a break in the July 19 council meeting just after passage of a new pedestrian ordinance. During deliberations on that ordinance, Jones had cited the Canadian cultural practice of pedestrians standing on the curb and simply pointing to the crosswalk, which prompts motorists to stop for them. The remark had earned a thumbs-up from Rapundalo, who is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen.

Intended as an extra measure of support for Zingerman’s was a third resolution communicating to the city’s historic district commission (HDC) the council’s view that the project represents a substantial benefit to the community. The proposal includes demolition of one house and the integration of another house into the architecture of the proposed new construction. Because the site is located in the Old Fourth Ward, the HDC will need to give its approval, in order for the project to be built. The message sent by the council to the HDC was clear: We want this project approved.

The council also sent a clear message to its firefighter and police unions, which the city hopes will soon ratify contracts that will save the city money. At the meeting, the council approved labor agreements with two other groups – the Teamsters civilian supervisors and the Teamsters police professional assistants. That added to bargained changes with the police deputy chiefs union that were approved at the council’s previous meeting on July 6. All three agreements reflected cost savings to the city through greater contributions by union members to health and retirement benefits and no increase in wages.

The implicit message to the firefighter and police unions was given explicit form through a position statement from the council’s labor committee and read aloud by Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), the chair of that committee. The statement calls on those unions to follow the example of the three who have already ratified contracts.

The council also gave final approval to a new pedestrian safety ordinance, which requires motorists to stop for pedestrians who are in, or even approaching, crosswalks that lack any traffic control device. During deliberations, the council swapped in “stop” to make the ordinance stronger than the originally proposed “yield.”

In other business, the council authorized the specific allocation of over $1 million in already-budgeted funds to nonprofits providing human services, approved liquor licenses for two downtown businesses, authorized the hire of a community energy coordinator using federal funds, got an update on the future of the Library Lot, and heard public commentary on a range of issues. [Full Story]

Pleas for Human, Safety Services at Council

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (May 3, 2010): Several speakers addressed the city council at its Monday meeting asking for continued funding for human services and to avoid layoffs in the city’s police and fire departments.

Fire fighters informational picket

Firefighters held an informational demonstration Monday afternoon before the city council's meeting at Station 1, which is located across the street from city hall. Firefighters from Flint, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Ann Arbor Township, Ypsilanti, Battle Creek and Ann Arbor took part in the demonstration. (Photos by the writer.)

And Margie Teall (Ward 4), who faces two challengers in the August Democratic primary, announced a planned amendment to the city’s proposed budget that would maintain human services funding at FY 2010 levels. The amendment, which will be brought forward at the council’s May 17 meeting, would also avert as many layoffs in the police and fire departments as possible, she said.

The previous evening at the council’s Sunday night caucus, Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) had already indicated they would support using part of a possible $2 million payment from the Downtown Development Authority to avoid police and firefighter layoffs.

The council’s plan for funding the amendment, reported Teall, is to use a $2 million payment from the Downtown Development Authority that it hopes the DDA board will approve at its May 5 board meeting. Even if the DDA board approves the payment, which is very likely but not certain, not all safety services layoffs in the city administrator’s proposed budget could be covered. Averting the elimination of 35 positions across police and fire departments combined would require $3.6 million. The restoration of human services funding would require another $260,000. And that would still result in the city tapping its general fund reserves for $1.5 million.

In its business for the evening, the council passed a resolution added late Monday to the council agenda, which strikes an agreement between the city and the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment for the future of the embankment along Argo Dam. It will allow the headrace to be re-opened by the end of this week.

The council also approved on first reading a revision to the city’s sidewalk occupancy permit system to include sandwich board signs. And the residential development now called Heritage Row – proposed along Fifth Avenue south of William Street – was approved at the council’s first reading with no discussion, but with dissent from Mike Anglin. Both of those measures will need to come back before the council for a second reading to gain approval.

The council also approved received the mayor’s nomination of the appointment of Anya Dale to the AATA board, replacing Paul Ajegba, whose term expired on May 1. Ajegba had been elected by his colleagues last fall to chair the board. Dale is a Washtenaw County planner. Her appointment will be presented for confirmation at the council’s May 17, 2010 meeting.

The council also approved some additional road closures for the June 6 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Allocates Human Services Funding

red ribbon closed loop

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) holds a red ribbon representing the general fund dollars in the Ann Arbor city budget. In the background are Mayor John Hieftje and Jim Mogensen, who gave a presentation during public commentary.

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting (April 20, 2009): At its Monday night meeting, Ann Arbor city councilmembers approved around $1.3 million in human services funding (after a “red-ribbon” presentation during public commentary on that subject).

They also heard the 2008 annual report from the chair of the local development finance authority (who was closely questioned by councilmember Marcia Higgins), allowed Tios an early exit to its lease, accommodated the University of Michigan’s request for a lane closure in connection with the football stadium renovation, and rejected the planning commission’s adopted downtown plan (which was expected) – which bumps the final decision on A2D2 zoning to early July.

During public commentary, council again heard support for  public art, a critique of the proposed early-out option for police officers as a part of the proposed budget, a suggestion to remove the East Stadium bridge, as well as Jim Mogensen’s “red ribbon” presentation.

Roger Fraser also gave the official presentation of the city’s budget, which had been presented twice previously last week – at a working session and also at a town hall meeting. [Full Story]