Welcome to my Ann Arbor City Council newsletter, where you can connect with primary sources to understand the work of your local government. My goal is to provide clear explanations of all the issues your elected representatives will be discussing at their next meeting and alert you to local policy and decisions that have been assigned to unelected Mayoral appointees.
This week, Council’s regular agenda is very short: final approval of appointments to boards and commissions, amendments to the Best Value Procurement policy, approval of the Council Policy and Legislative agenda, and a two month extension of the City’s contract with Recycle Ann Arbor. Among other things, the Consent Agenda includes a significant expenditure for solar installations at City facilities (CA-10) and amendment to the contract for resurfacing of Scio Church Road, now scheduled for 2023 (CA-9).
The contract for solar installations (CA-10) rescinds a plan approved just six months ago. On June 21, 2022, City Council approved a Power Partnership Agreement (PPA) for $7,496,424 to fund solar panels on City facilities. Under the PPA, the City would not own the solar panels but had the right to purchase them later. This week, Council rescinds that PPA and reallocates those funds, approving a new contract for $8,133,255 that will include City purchase/ownership of the solar panels. The new contract takes advantage of a 30% rebate ($3,511,028) from the Inflation Reduction Act.
Reminder about COVID Testing
Our community is currently suffering from many different kinds of illness including COVID, so it’s worth remembering that we still have convenient testing services available. My own family has had an exciting week of COVID symptoms, positive tests, and isolation in our house! I visited the drive through testing at Wagner and I was surprised to learn that they have plans to be there for a good while longer — a staffer told me they expect to be there for another year!
Drive-through COVID PCR testing is available by appointment at:
2|42 Church Parking Lot
648 S Wagner Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Mon-Sat (except Thur): 8am-6pm; Thur: 10am-6pm; Sun: 2pm-6pm
Testing is no longer subsidized, so when making an appointment online you now need to upload health insurance information. You can make an appointment here:
Christmas Tree Disposal to Support the Pioneer Baseball Team
If you live within eight miles of Pioneer High School, you can support the Pioneer Baseball team by letting them pick up and dispose of your Christmas tree!
To participate, register no later than Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023. They will be picking up Christmas Trees on Sunday, January 8th.
A minimum donation of $20 is required to secure your Christmas Tree pickup (due to COVID, they are no longer accepting cash donations).
For more details and to register, visit this link:
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda
Below is my summary of issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, you can email all of Council at CityCouncil@a2gov.org
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday December 19, 2022 7:00PM
Ann Arbor City Hall (2nd Floor)
301 E Huron St, Ann Arbor 48104
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda, and instructions for dialing into the meeting) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:
City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99) and online at a2gov.org/watchCTN
Meetings are also streamed live on the CTN YouTube channel:
How to reserve public comment
People that wish to comment at a City Council meeting must sign up with the City Clerk’s office in advance. Speakers are allotted 3 minutes, with the first 15 speakers allowed to speak in a 45 minute session near the beginning of the meeting. Remaining speakers will speak at the end of the Council meeting. Public comment can be made either in person or remotely via phone/Zoom audio.
To sign up for public comment, please go to or call the City Clerk’s Office at 734-794-6140 on the day of the meeting between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. At 1:00 PM, all speakers that have signed up are randomly ordered in “priority groups”. After 1:00 PM, speaking times are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. No new speakers will be added to the list after 5:00 PM. For more information, visit the City Clerk’s webpage about electronic meetings, section “City Council Public Commentary Time”
Questions to the Agenda
In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.
AC-2 (22-2054) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – December 19, 2022
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (22-1783) Appointments – Confirmations
These mayoral nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Mark Foster – Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees
- Jordan Else – Renters Commission (Landlord Non-voting)
- Geoffrey Lowes – Renters Commission
- Jessica Letaw – Downtown Development Authority
- Thressa Nichols – Downtown Development Authority
MC-2 (22-1963) Nominations and Appointments for December 19, 2022
These mayoral nominations are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Grace Whitney – Zoning Board of Appeals
- Frederick Hall – Airport Advisory Committee
- Rosemary Faulkner – Airport Advisory Committee
- Robert Droppelman – Renter’s Commission (this name was added to the agenda after this newsletter was initially published)
Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.
CA-1 (22-1995) Resolution to Close Streets for the Mayor’s Autumnal Green Fair, Friday, September 15, 2023
CA-2 (22-1994) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the Ann Arbor SPARK Tech Trek and Mobility Row on Friday, September 22, 2023 from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM
CA-3 (22-1931) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Michigan State University to Create a Software Tool to Evaluate Water Quality and Appropriate $250,000.00 (8 Votes Required)
CA-4 (22-1933) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 3 to the License and Services Agreement with Tyler Technologies, Inc., Amend the FY23 Budget, and Appropriate Necessary Funds ($169,764.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-5 (22-1951) Resolution to Approve Participation in the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Larson Property in Webster Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Webster Township, and Appropriate $81,000.00 (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (22-1952) Resolution to Approve Participation in the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Cares II Property in Webster Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Webster Township, and Appropriate $54,000.00 (8 Votes Required)
CA-7 (22-1904) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Metro Controls, Inc. for the Wheeler Service Center Building Management System Modernization Project (RFP 22-65, $131,200.00), and to Appropriate $131,200.00 from the Wheeler Service Center Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
CA-8 (22-1822) Resolution to Approve Change Order No. 2 with CLI Concrete Leveling Inc. (Bid No. 4676) for the 2022 Sidewalk Repair Project ($33,670.00, Total Contract $225,270.00)
CA-9 (22-1955) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Construction Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Scio Church Road Resurfacing Project ($3,576,100.00) and to Appropriate $85,000.00 from the Water Supply Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-10 (22-1870) Resolution to Rescind Resolution R-22-214 for a Power Purchase Agreement with Enerlogics Networks, Inc., Approve a Construction Contract with Enerlogics Networks, Inc. for the Purchase and Installation of Solar at City Facilities, to Reallocate Funding for Solar Projects Previously Approved, and to Appropriate Necessary Funds ($8,133,255.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-11 (22-1919) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Elevate Energy for Energy Efficiency and Electrification Support Services (Not to Exceed $250,000.00 Annually)
CA-12 (22-1920) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of Vehicles from Lunghamer Ford and to Appropriate $40,295.00 in Funding from the General Fund Balance (State of Michigan MiDeal – $538,721.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-13 (22-1998) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Police Officers Association effective January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2026
Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.
There are no public hearings on the Agenda
Ordinances – Second Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.
There are no ordinance first readings on the Agenda
Ordinances – First Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for “first reading”. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting (“second reading”), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (22-1930) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 14 (Purchasing, Selling and Contracting Procedure) of Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor related to the Best Value Procurement Program
In December 2021, Council Member Eyer, Council Member Radina, and Mayor Taylor sponsored a City ordinance to implement Best Value Procurement (BVP) policies. The ordinance was in response to a successful ballot initiative that amended the City charter. Council considered and approved those policies at second reading in January 2022. The ordinance is now being amended based on problems identified:
- The BVP policy is not accepted by MDOT and other partnering agencies that help fund City projects. MDOT will agree to pay a percentage of project cost based on the price of the Lowest Responsible Bidder. Amendments will give the City Administrator complete discretion to exempt contracts from BVP policy where third-party funding is a factor. Decisions will be made “at the sole determination of the City Administrator.”
- Current BVP requirements are impossible to apply to simpler contracts, where only smaller firms are available to do the work but only larger firms can meet requirements such as apprenticeship programs. Amendments will apply Best Value Procurement policies only to contracts exceeding $50,000.
- Current BVP policy refers to (and requires) a Michigan OSHA safety program certification that does not exist. Amendments will remove this reference.
- Current BVP policy includes an evaluation of employment ratios for categories of employee – masters, journey persons, and apprentices – that are not recognized by the state of Michigan. Employment ratios for these categories are federal requirements through the Department of Labor (DOL). There is no published standard for ratios of these employees; they are determined by the DOL on a case by case basis. Amendments will remove the “completely redundant” criterion.
- Current BVP policy does not require disclosure of non-craft employees or contract labor. Amendments will add disclosure requirements and preference to those companies that employ fewer non-craft employees.
From the resolution: “Staff worked closely with Councilmembers Eyer and Councilmember Radina to finalize these amendments and bring them forward to City Council.”
Motions and Resolutions
The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked “DC” are proposed by Council members, items marked “DB” are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked “DS” are proposed by City staff.
DC-1 (22-1784) Resolution to Appoint Julie Lynch to the Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees (7 Votes Required)
This mayoral nomination was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Because the nominee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor, seven votes are required.
- Julie Lynch – Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees
DC-2 (22-1986) Resolution the Remove Kristen Cato from the Renters Commission and Appoint Jaymie Tibbits
This mayoral nomination was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. From the resolution: “Kristen Cato is currently appointed to the Renters Commission through May 31, 2024, however she has not attended since July, 2022. This resolution removes Kristen Cato and appoints Jaymie Tibbits to the Renters Commission.”
DC-3 (22-1905) Resolution to Appoint Anya Dale and Maisie Weyhing to the Environmental Commission (7 Votes Required)
These nominations are brought by CM Disch, who sits on the Environmental Commission. These nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because one of the nominees “is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor”
- Anya Dale – Environmental Commission
- Maisie Weyhing – Environmental Commission
DC-4 (22-2048) Resolution to Adopt the Revised FY2023 City Council Legislative Policy Agenda
The Council Policy Agenda committee comprised of Mayor Taylor, Council Members Eyer, Harrison, Radina, Song, and Watson recommends a list of state-level policies and legislative goals. In years past, this Council Legislative and Policy Agenda was approved as a plain document, listing state policy preferences and priorities to be approved by the whole of Council. This year, the agenda is formatted as a 37 page booklet with graphics and a table of contents, to be shared directly with the whole of the Michigan State Legislature. It includes an introductory greeting from Mayor Taylor.
Highlights of Legislative Proposals:
- Local control and community self-determination related to specific policy issues
- Community Choice Aggregation for alternative energy
- Energy efficiency requirements in state building code
- Legalization of Community Solar and support for on-site solar
- Polluter Pay laws
- Regulation of plastic containers and bags
- Support for lower minimum speed limits
- Local ownership of state trunklines
- Incentivizing by-right duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in all residential districts
- Repealing ban on rent control
- Codify Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
- Repeal of Right to Work
Infrastructure priorities are listed in two groups – “Mega Projects” and “Priority Projects”
- Water Treatment Plant Replacement ($108.1 Million)
- New Train Station ($100+ Million)
- The Treeline Trail ($110 Million)
- Wheeler Center Solar Park ($15 million)
- Net-Zero Fire Stations 3 and 4 ($8.3 Million each)
- Vision Zero Project Implementation ($30 million)
- Sustainable Energy Utility Startup (no cost estimate given)
- Road Paving (no cost estimate given)
From the description of Road Paving – “The City of Ann Arbor has road resurfacing needs across the community. Any funding amount from the state to assist in these needs would be appreciated and well used.”
DC-5 (22-2042) Resolution to Approve Contract Amendment Number 9 to the Service Contract with Recycle Ann Arbor for Municipal Resource Recovery Services for an Extension of One 2-month Period, (estimated $207,773.00 for 2 Months of the Contract)
Amendment to a City Contract with Recycle Ann Arbor will extend the current Municipal Resource Recovery Services Contract for an additional two-month period (January 1, 2023, to February 28, 2023) to give time for negotiations of a longer extension. Estimated costs of $207,773 include an 8.5% increase to the current per cart tip fee ($11.07/cart tip). The new per cart tip fee will be $12.01/cart tip.
I also published this on my website:
City Planning Commission Work Session on TC-1 Zoning Changes
At the December 5, 2022 meeting, City Council directed the City Planning Commission to evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 Zoning District or Unified Development Code (UDC) that:
- Incorporate limited automobile-related uses into the TC1 District, excluding drive throughs and gas stations
- Address constraints of existing narrow rights of way
On Wednesday, December 13, 2022, the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission met in a working session to discuss potential changes to the Transit Corridor (TC-1) zoning district recently applied to West Stadium and Maple. Working sessions like this one are open meetings, available for members of the public to attend. However, they are not recorded for anyone to view later. A member of City staff explained in an email to a resident:
“There are numerous committees and working groups across the City that do not record meetings, nor draft minutes as they are not decision making bodies.”
Though these committees and working groups do not make decisions, their recommendations are regularly accepted and approved by decision making bodies. Since 2020, such meetings are typically held via Zoom, a platform that does not require significant staff effort to record and upload to YouTube. In 2022, the Planning Commission and its various subcommittees held eighteen meetings via ZOOM that were not recorded. These meetings are not available for viewing by anyone who was not in attendance “live.”
Earlier this week, a resident alerted me to this week’s working session of the City Planning Commission and the fact that she contacted City staff to request that it be recorded. She received no response. I contacted City staff and asked about the availability of a recording but also got no response.
The Michigan Open Meetings Act explains that the right to attend a public meeting includes the right to record that public meeting.
15.263 Meetings, decisions, and deliberations of public body; requirements; attending or addressing meeting of public body; COVID-19 safety measures; tape-recording, videotaping, broadcasting, and telecasting proceedings; accommodation of absent members; remote attendance; rules; exclusion from meeting; exemptions.
Sec. 3. (1) All meetings of a public body must be open to the public and must be held in a place available to the general public. All persons must be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided in this act. The right of a person to attend a meeting of a public body includes the right to tape-record, to videotape, to broadcast live on radio, and to telecast live on television the proceedings of a public body at a public meeting. The exercise of this right does not depend on the prior approval of the public body. However, a public body may establish reasonable rules and regulations in order to minimize the possibility of disrupting the meeting.
Moving forward, I will be recording and producing video summaries of select meetings like this one. At the links below you can view a video summary of this meeting or the whole of the two hour meeting. The Legistar link for this meeting included staff slide presentations:
Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!