Stories indexed with the term ‘lobbyist’

Council OKs Annual Contracts: SPARK, Lobbyist

The Ann Arbor city council approved two annual contracts for services at its June 17, 2013 meeting. One was a $48,000 contract with Governmental Consultant Services Inc. (GCSI) for lobbying services with the state legislature. The council also approved a $75,000 contract with Ann Arbor SPARK for business support services.

The two items appeared on the council’s consent agenda and were approved as a part of it. Items on the consent agenda are considered routine, and include contracts for less than $100,000.

The contact with the economic development agency Ann Arbor SPARK is one that has been renewed annually since the Washtenaw Development Council and Ann Arbor SPARK merged in 2006. Previously, Ann Arbor had contracted with the WDC … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Council OKs 618 S. Main

Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 18, 2012): Of the two potentially controversial items on the council’s agenda, only one actually resulted in much conversation at the meeting: the site plan approval and brownfield financing for the 618 S. Main project. A possible revision to the city’s year-old medical marijuana licensing ordinance was the other item that could have provoked extended debate – but instead it was quickly postponed, until October, in light of several pieces of legislation currently pending in the Michigan legislature.

From left: Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and developer Dan Ketelaar.

From left: Councilmember Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and 618 S. Main developer Dan Ketelaar at the June 18, 2012 Ann Arbor city council meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The council debated but ultimately approved both the site plan and the brownfield plan for the 618 S. Main project – an apartment complex that Dan Ketelaar’s Urban Group Development Co. intends to market to young professionals. The 7-story building would include 190 units for 231 bedrooms, plus two levels of parking for 121 vehicles. The project had received a recommendation for approval from the city planning commission on Jan. 19, 2012.

The project’s approval meant that the council granted a variance in the height allowed in the D2 (downtown interface) zoning district – 85 feet, which is 25 feet taller than the 60-foot limit allowed in D2. The majority of councilmembers felt that the project reflected a months-long positive collaboration by the developer with neighbors and with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which approved a $650,000 grant to complement the $3.7 million brownfield plan.

The project was opposed by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), who essentially indicated he did not trust Ketelaar and other “speculators.” Kunselman also seemed unconvinced of the environmental benefits of the project. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) joined Kunselman in voting against the site plan and the brownfield plan. Both votes were 8-2 – Sandi Smith (Ward 1) was absent from the 11-member council.

In other business, the council made an adjustment to the current fiscal 2012 budget just before the fiscal year ends on June 30, to ensure that the city conforms with the state statute on uniform budgeting and accounting. The adjustment to the city’s general fund allowed for $1.3 million in additional expenses. Despite that, CFO Tom Crawford said he felt the city would end the year around “break even.”

The council also took action to allocate $1,244,629 to different nonprofits that provide human services. The amount was set as part of the FY 2013 budget, which the city council approved on May 22, 2012.

The council also authorized around $1.5 million for new dump trucks – with stainless steel parts to ensure a longer life than the vehicles they are replacing. And councilmembers approved a roughly $800,000 contract for a five-phase study to analyze stormwater in the city.

Other expenses authorized by the council included a $48,000 annual contract renewal with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., the city’s lobbyist in Lansing, and a $75,000 contract with Ann Arbor SPARK, the area’s economic development agency.

Also at the council’s meeting, nominations for three commissions were floated, to be voted on at the next meeting: Ken Clein for the planning commission; John German for the environmental commission; and Archer Christian for the greenbelt advisory commission. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Renews Contract with Lobbyist

At its June 18, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved a $48,000 contract with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., a Lansing-based lobbying firm. It’s a one-year contract for fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1, 2012. The funds were approved as part of the city administrator’s office budget, in the FY 2013 budget approved on May 22, 2012. The contract is the same amount as last year.

According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, “GCSI has provided excellent work in the areas of legislation monitoring along with advocating fire protection grants and comprehensive corridor planning.”

GCSI’s Kirk Profit, a former member of the state House of Representatives representing the eastern part of Washtenaw County, typically makes an annual presentation to … [Full Story]

County OKs Contract for Lansing Lobbyist

At their Oct. 19, 2011 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave final approval to renew a two-year contract with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., a Lansing-based lobbying firm. The contract would run from Nov. 1, 2011 through Oct. 31, 2013 at $54,250 per year. That’s the same rate that the county currently pays, and is already built into the proposed 2012-2013 budget. [.pdf of draft contract]

GCSI lobbyist Kirk Profit and his colleagues most recently gave a formal update to the board at their March 2, 2011 meeting. GCSI provides lobbying services at the state level for several local units of government, including the city of Ann Arbor.

This brief was filed from the boardroom at the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. … [Full Story]

County Postpones Action on Road Millage

Washenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Oct. 5, 2011): The main discussion at Wednesday’s board meeting focused on a proposal for countywide road repair – and the possible mechanism to fund it.

Steve Powers, Verna McDaniel

Ann Arbor city administrator Steve Powers talks with Washtenaw County administrator Verna McDaniel before the Oct. 5 meeting of the county board of commissioners. Powers, who started his job in mid-September and was formerly a Marquette County administrator, told the board he looked forward to building more collaborative efforts between the city and county. (Photos by the writer.)

The proposal debated by the board came from the Washtenaw County road commission. Rob Turner (R-District 1) recommended indefinite postponement. He objected to the idea of levying a millage without voter approval – an action that road commissioners believe is possible under a 1909 law. It’s still on the books but that hasn’t been used in decades.

Ultimately, the board voted to postpone action until their Dec. 7 meeting. The next evening – on Thursday, Oct. 6 – they held a working session on the issue.

In other business, the board gave initial approval to a contract with Sylvan Township, related to its bond repayment schedule, which the township is struggling to meet. The county will be tapping its reserves to help the township cover the bond payments, but the deal is contingent on township voters passing a 4.75 mill, 20-year tax that’s on the November 2011 ballot.

The board also took an initial vote to create a new management position and hire Greg Dill into that job – as county infrastructure management director. The job is part of a broader reorganization of county administration, which hasn’t yet been approved by the board.

Accolades were threaded throughout the meeting, as the county handed out its annual Environmental Excellence Awards to several local organizations. Praise was also served up to Lansing lobbyist Kirk Profit for his work on the county’s behalf. That praise included initial approval of a two-year contract renewal for Governmental Consultant Services Inc. – Profit is a director of the Lansing-based firm.

The board also said an official farewell to Kristin Judge, a Democrat from District 7 who resigned her seat, and was attending her last board meeting. [Full Story]

County Board to Renew GCSI Contract

At their Oct. 5, 2011 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave initial approval to renew a two-year contract with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., a Lansing-based lobbying firm. The contract would run from  Nov. 1, 2011 through Oct. 31, 2013 at $54,250 per year. That’s the same rate that the county currently pays, and is already built into the proposed 2012-2013 budget. [.pdf of draft contract]

GCSI lobbyist Kirk Profit attended Wednesday’s meeting. He and his colleagues most recently gave a formal update to the board at their March 2, 2011 meeting. GCSI provides lobbying services at the state level for several local units of government, including the city of Ann Arbor.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Cannabis Laws Done, For Now

Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 20, 2011): Two ordinances regulating medical marijuana businesses were finally approved by the council on Monday night, following more than a year of discussion in some form.

Sabra Briere, Carsten Hohnke, Christopher Taylor

Before the June 20 meeting started, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) handed out amendments she'd be proposing to the medical marijuana licensing ordinance. From left: Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5). (Photos by the writer.)

The first local law stipulates where medical marijuana businesses can be located in the city – it’s an addition to Ann Arbor’s zoning code. The second law establishes a licensing board for medical marijuana dispensaries and sets up an application process for the award of a maximum of 20 licenses to dispensaries in the first year of the program.

On Monday evening, the council undertook amendments to the licensing ordinance that were few compared to massive changes that have taken place at several council meetings dating back to January 2011. On Monday, the labeling requirements for marijuana packaging were changed so that dollar amounts are no longer required.

The council teetered on the edge of postponing the legislation, when city attorney Stephen Postema encouraged councilmembers to delay voting until the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion on a case (Michigan v. McQueen) for which oral arguments were heard on June 7. Despite the support for postponement from mayor John Hieftje, an initial vote to postpone achieved only two other votes. A second vote achieved a total of five votes, leaving the postponement one vote short of the six-vote majority it required.

As some councilmembers observed that the council had invested a disproportionate amount of time on the medical marijuana legislation, Hieftje contended that it had not prevented the council from handling its other work.

On Monday, that other work included a collective bargaining agreement with its police service specialists union, which was an item added just that evening to the agenda. The council also heard public commentary critical of the recent budget approved on May 31 by the council, which includes the layoff of some firefighters and police officers. The meeting was preceded by a demonstration by the city’s public safety employees, at Fifth and Huron streets just outside city hall

The council  also approved two contracts in connection with the East Stadium Bridges replacement project and three purchase orders related to tree care. And the council gave final approval to sewer and water rate increases and a revision to its landscaping ordinance.

The council revised its debt/fund balance policy, and revised its budget to reflect the blending of its economic development fund back into the general fund. Also related to economic development, councilmembers approved the annual $75,000 funding for Ann Arbor SPARK and set a public hearing for a tax abatement for Picometrix.

The council established an affordable housing lien policy and gave initial approval to technical revisions to the city’s pension ordinance. They confirmed appointments to the new design review board, but postponed a vote on setting the design review fee. The council added a work session for July 11, which is likely to include an update on the planned Fuller Road Station.

The council also heard a presentation on a skatepark planned for Veterans Memorial Park. [Full Story]