Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 23, 2011 session of May 16 meeting): At a continued session from its May 16 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council was expected to wrap up outstanding issues related to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Those issues include: (1) ratification of a new contract under which the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority would continue to manage the city’s public parking system; and (2) acceptance of prior contributions by the DDA to city projects, as payment for excess tax increment finance (TIF) revenues that have been captured in the DDA’s TIF district since 2003.
Settling those issues, which were crystallized at a special meeting of the DDA board on Friday, May 20, would allow the council to make final decisions on the fiscal year 2012 budget. While the fiscal year starts on July 1, the council is required by the city charter to adopt the budget, with any amendments, no later than its second meeting in May. If the council fails to act by then, the budget proposed by the city administrator in April is considered to be adopted. That budget currently calls for eliminating a total of 20 positions in the police and fire departments. Several firefighters attended Monday’s meeting.
After a few introductory remarks from mayor John Hieftje, instead of settling the outstanding DDA issues, the council voted immediately to recess the meeting – again – to be continued on May 31 at 7 p.m. The twice-paused meeting counts as the same meeting that began on May 16.
Hieftje’s introductory comments alluded in part to some remarks made at the council’s May 16 session about a “rainy day fund,” which had prompted the mayor to ask the city attorney’s office to draft a response. As part of his introductory comments, Hieftje also explained that he and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) had worked on drafting language that would provide some assurance to the DDA that the city would “backstop” the DDA’s fund balances, but said they were not ready to offer a resolution to the council that evening.
The immediate vote to recess the meeting again prevented Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) from introducing a resolution that calls for moving responsibility for the public parking system back to the city of Ann Arbor from the DDA, and reducing the number of DDA staff from four to two. The resolution would almost certainly not have passed as drafted – but there could be some interest on the council, as well as on the DDA board, for establishing an oversight body for the parking system that would not be the DDA.
Following city council’s inaction, a joint meeting of the two “mutually beneficial” committees – one from the DDA board, another from council – has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at 7:30 a.m. at the DDA’s offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave. The committees have been negotiating the parking contract for more than a year.