Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Ann Arbor City Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City’s Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.
This week, most of our agenda items also include public hearings: re-zoning of 350 S. Fifth (the “Y lot”), TC-1 rezoning of 68 lots at State/Eisenhower, water revenue bonds, and tax abatement for development at Research Park Drive. Perhaps the most important item on our agenda is DS-2, a resolution allocating $24.2 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). I wrote more about that in my Additional Thoughts below.
No Mow May
This week, a number of residents reached out to Council after reading an article in the New York Times about the idea.
Environmental experts recommend leaving early spring growth undisturbed for the benefit of pollinators and a number of municipalities have adopted the idea of “No Mow May.” I am a cosponsor for DC-1, a resolution declaring “No Mow May” in Ann Arbor. In other municipalities that have instituted it, there is an opportunity for residents to register their participation so that properties can be temporarily exempt from various ordinances that require mowing and maintenance. Agenda item DC-1 does not include this element of registration/exemption; it is a public recommendation, entirely voluntary. To learn more about No Mow May, see:
SUPPORT MY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN
I am running for re-election to Council in 2022 and would really appreciate your generous support! I need your help to promote transparency, accountability, and serious representation for Ward 4. Our local democracy matters!
Sunday April 3rd 3:00pm
York (1928 Packard)
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. This week I will be holding them in person at York on 1928 Packard Street.
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday April 4th 7:00pm
Council Meetings are in person at City Council chambers. Public commentary is available either in person or via phone – see the Legistar link for details.
Ward 4 People & Places You Should Know
If you pay attention to local housing or energy issues, you may already know Ember McCoy. She is an appointed member of the City’s Energy Commission (since 2018) and active in the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO). Ember is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Policy & Justice at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS). She studies the politics of air pollution regulation and monitoring in the US.
I first met Ember last year, when GEO and UM student leaders approached me to talk about how early leasing hurts tenants in Ann Arbor. Together, we successfully amended the City’s Early Leasing Ordinance and we continue to work toward policy reforms that will help renters in Ann Arbor.
Last year, Ember was a member of GEO’s Housing Caucus; she is currently the Contract Committee Co-chair for GEO, helping develop their platform for negotiations with the University. She has also been involved in climate-related activism in Ann Arbor, including a Climate Action Movement that successfully persuaded the University to divest from fossil fuels and a local campaign to try to stop DTE from building a new natural gas plant.
Ember first moved to Ann Arbor for a two-year masters program in Environmental Justice. She stayed here, working as a staff member in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs office at SEAS before starting her Ph.D.
Ember has lived in Ann Arbor for seven years and moved to Ward 4 last July.
When City Council considers housing or energy issues, we leverage expertise and experience from people like Ember. She is someone you should know!
A2ELNEL.com Website Updates
In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.
City Council Voting Chart for Mar 21, 2022
The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.
A2Council.com Update for Mar 21, 2022
My summary of agenda items of interest from our most recent Council meeting, along with articles I’ve written, articles published on MLive, links to Legistar, and CTN’s YouTube video.
AAPD Community Meetings April 5th and 7th
The Ann Arbor Police Department will be hosting “Access to AAPD Internal Affairs” community meetings via Zoom in April. The meeting for Wards 1&5 is scheduled for April 5th, and the meeting for Wards 2,3,4 is scheduled for April 7th.
Churchill Downs Park Stormwater Basin Walkthrough April 12 2022
There will be a pre-construction site walkthrough on Tuesday, April 12 from 5:30-6:30 PM.
Allmendinger Park Playground Survey Open Until April 15 2022
This week I received a postcard from the City about a survey for the Allmendinger Park playground.
FY2023 Budget Process Update: Video Presentations
Seven pre-recorded presentations have been loaded to the City’s website, in lieu of the traditional Council budget work sessions that included public comment. According to process, the City Administrator will present his recommended fiscal year 2023 budget to City Council on April 18, 2022.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda
Below is my summary of some 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, feel free to email me.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday April 4, 2022 7:00pm
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:
City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit:
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-1 (22-0621) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – April 4, 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 (22-0568) Appointments – Confirmations
This appointment from the Mayor was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Sally Petersen – Economic Development Corporation
MC-2 (22-0588) Nominations and Appointments for April 4, 2022
This appointment from the Mayor being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Karen Wanza – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
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 (22-0591) Resolution to Close Monroe Street between State Street and Oakland Avenue for the Jeffries Hall Building Naming Dedication and Ribbon Cutting on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM
CA-2 (22-0502) Resolution to Close N. Fourth Avenue and E. Ann Street for the 25th Annual African-American Downtown Festival, Friday, June 3, 2022 to Saturday, June 4, 2022
CA-3 (22-0474) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) to Enter a Geographic Information System Software Three-Year Enterprise License and Maintenance Agreement (ELA) and appropriate $39,464 from the Information Technology Fund Balance ($247,500.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-4 (22-0311) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. in the amount of $500,000.00; Wade Trim Associates, Inc. in the amount of $500,000.00; Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. in the amount of $500,000.00; and Spalding DeDecker Associates, Inc. in the amount of $300,000.00 for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services (RFP No. 22-02)
CA-5 (22-0375) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with DLZ Michigan, Inc. for $370,000.00; Professional Service Industries, Inc. for $530,000.00; Materials Testing Consultants, Inc. for $920,000.00; and NTH Consultants, Ltd. for $140,000.00 for Construction Materials Testing Services
CA-6 (22-0483) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Spence Brothers to Construct the Headworks Improvement Project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, ITB No. 4706 ($12,261,000.00)
CA-7 (22-0484) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 2 to the Contract with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for the Headworks Improvement Project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, RFP No. 19-12 ($831,187.00 Amendment, Contract Total $1,600,275.53)
CA-8 (22-0517) Resolution to Approve Public Art Enhancement Recommendations for FY2023 – FY2028 Capital Improvement Projects
CA-9 (22-0428) Resolution to Approve Professional Services Agreements with Fishbeck for $300,000.00, Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for $300,000.00, and OHM Advisors for $300,000.00 for Wastewater Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($900,000.00) (RFP #22-05)
CA-10 (22-0383) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 2998 Geddes Av. ($25,954.00)
CA-11 (22-0384) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 3011 Geddes Av. ($25,954.00)
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.
PH-1/B-1 (22-0269) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.8 Acre from D1 (Downtown Core) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), 350 S. Fifth Planned Unit Development (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays). (ORD-22-03)
The .8 acre parcel at 350 S. Fifth will be rezoned from D1 (Downtown Core) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District). This PUD allows for more height (up to 275 feet) and lifts requirements for driveway width, building frontage, and street trees along Fourth and Fifth Avenue right of ways. No parking will be required. In exchange, a minimum of 100 (40% of total) residential dwellings will be affordable dwelling units, property will be allocated for Blake Transit Center expansion, there will be no curb cut on William, and the building will be fully electrified.
PH-2/B-2 (22-0346) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 68 Lots in the South State Street and East/West Eisenhower Parkway Area to TC1 (Transit Corridor District), City-Initiated Rezoning, (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-22-04)
Sixty-eight lots in the South State and East/West Eisenhower area, including Boardwalk Drive and Victors Way will be rezoned TC-1. This new zoning district (Transit Corridor district) will permit unlimited density, create height minimums except where adjacent to pre-existing residential areas, establish maximum (rather than minimum) parking requirements, require mixed use, eliminate any open space requirements, eliminate side and rear setback requirements except where adjacent to pre-existing residential areas, and implement as yet undetermined incentives for sustainability, affordability, and public open space.
PH-3/C-1 (22-0437) An Ordinance Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of Water Supply System Revenue Bonds, Series 2022 to the Michigan Finance Authority (Roll Call Vote Required – One Reading Only)
Water Supply System Revenue Bonds would be issued for up to $6,180,000 to fund additions and improvements to the City’s water supply system, such as the acquisition and construction of the Barton Pump Station. These bonds are administered through the Michigan Finance Authority (the “MFA”) as part of its Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) program. They will be secured and paid from revenues of the Water Supply System.
PH-4/DB-1 (22-0347) Resolution to Approve the Sartorius – 3874 Research Park Drive Redevelopment Brownfield Plan (BRC Recommendation: Approval – 2 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A Brownfield Plan will reimburse the developer of 3874 Research Park Drive
- $145,125 for environmental-related activities: Environmental Due Diligence, Site Control and testing; excavation, transportation, and disposal of impacted soil; and related Brownfield Plan and Work Plan preparation.
- $1,513,586 for non-environmental activities: Demolition; infrastructure improvements, site preparation activities, and related Brownfield Plan and Work Plan preparation
- An additional $1,101,727 of TIF capture will be deposited into the City’s Affordable Housing Fund.
After Council approval, the plan will advance to the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners for authorization.
PH-5/DS-1 (22-0600) Resolution to Approve Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate between the City of Ann Arbor and Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments
An Industrial Facilities Exemption certificate for Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments will permit a 12-year abatement of local taxes up to $54,587,000 of real property site improvements and up to $8,943,000 of personal property. An Industrial Development. District was previously established for Sartorius at 3874 Research Park Drive, making them eligible for local tax abatement.
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.
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.
The following ordinance issuing bonds requires only one reading, and was subject to a public hearing as listed above.
C-1 (22-0437) is the same as PH-3 above.
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 (22-0613) Resolution to Support The No Mow Initiative 2022
City Council would declare “No Mow May” and encourage residents to refrain from mowing open green space during the month of May in order to preserve floral spaces for bees and other pollinators.
DS-2 (22-0554) Resolution to Direct the Allocation of ARPA Funds
This resolution allocates $24.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds based on staff recommendations. Amendments proposed by Council Members are attached to the Legistar item. See my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
The biggest decision on this week’s agenda is agenda item DS-2, allocating $24.2 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). I posted about this in my last newsletter, along with links to previous posts I wrote about the public engagement process:
Staff funding recommendations are listed in DS-2, which I have reprinted below in order of funding amount:
Proposed ARPA Funding (Total $24,182,630)
- $4,500,000 Solar on City Facilities
- $3,500,000 Property Acquisition for Affordable Housing
- $3,500,000 Unarmed Response
- $2,300,000 Gallup Park Bridge
- $2,000,000 Galvanized Water Service Line Replacement
- $2,000,000 Vision Zero Plan Implementation
- $1,682,630 Coordinated Funding Support
- $1,600,000 Universal Basic Income
- $1,000,000 City Clerk Election Center
- $1,000,000 Housing for Homeless Households
- $500,000 Community and Law Enforcement Data Platform
- $500,000 Funding for the Arts
- $100,000 Liberty Plaza
Many residents have asked that more of these funds be allocated toward infrastructure projects. At least one of my colleagues has posted on social media that it is “wrong” to use ARPA funds for capital improvements on anything other than water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. This is clearly not the case, given that Staff recommends significant investment in City facilities (installation of solar panels) and City parks (Gallup Park bridge).
Use of these funds is dictated by federal guidelines, which were clarified in January. Explanation of the “Final Rule” (effective April 1, 2022) can be found here:
It is worth noting that the largest single funding recommendation in DS-2 is for installation of solar panels on City facilities ($4.5 million). The “Final Rule” published in January addresses such expenditures, whether or not they would be eligible for funding under ARPA:
Environmental quality and climate resilience. Several commenters recommended eligible uses to enhance environmental quality, remediate pollution, promote recycling or composting, or increase energy efficiency or electrical grid resilience. Whether these projects respond to the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on certain communities would depend on the specific issue they address and its nexus to the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic. (p. 4376)
The “Final Rule” is clear, however, in giving municipalities flexibility to invest in infrastructure:
Uses of funds that are not specifically named as eligible in this final rule may still be eligible in two ways. First, under the revenue loss eligible use category, recipients have broad latitude to use funds for government services up to their amount of revenue loss due to the pandemic. A potential use of funds that does not fit within the other three eligible use categories may be permissible as a government service, which recipients can fund up to their amount of revenue loss. For example, transportation infrastructure projects are generally ineligible as a response to the public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic; however, a recipient could fund these projects as a government service up to its amount of revenue loss, provided that other restrictions on use do not apply (p. 4340)
These two categories of eligibility – “revenue loss” and “government service” – allow the City to allocate funds toward capital improvement projects such as the Gallup Park bridge and installation of solar panels. Last October, then-interim City Administrator John Fournier confirmed in a memo:
After reviewing our budget and financial projections, we are estimating that we will be able to spend $18,376,457 in the revenue loss category, allowing us to spend those funds on any general governmental purpose. The remaining amount of our ARP funds, $5,806,173, must be spend on economic aid or public health programs.
RECOMMENDATIONS & AMENDMENTS
Yesterday (Friday), all of Council received notice about four proposed amendments to ARPA spending recommendations. These amendments were submitted by Council Members, and are attached to the DS-2 Legistar item:
AMENDMENT 1 (Sponsors: Radina, Briggs, Disch, and Griswold)
$1,600,000 originally allocated to Universal Basic Income would be re-directed toward road improvements: “additional investment in the next feasible construction season, or to maximize impact through additional investment in a future potential bond proposal to repair streets.”
AMENDMENT 2 (Sponsors: Song, Eyer, Grand, Disch, Taylor)
$500,000 would be spent on residential supportive services. This money would come from the already-allocated $3,500,000 to affordable housing acquisition.
AMENDMENT 3 (Sponsors: Song, Eyer, Disch, Grand)
Up to $200,000 would be spent in collaboration with Washtenaw Office for Community and Economic Development (OCED) to grant, support, and evaluate “arts-based trauma response programs and workforce development.” This money will come from the $500,000 already allocated as Funding for the Arts.
AMENDMENT 4 (Sponsors: Ramlawi, Nelson, Griswold)
$935,336 allocated to Unarmed Emergency Response will be re-directed to Coordinated Funding to support homeless individuals. Funding for Unarmed Response will remain the same, with $935,336 to be allocated from Marijuana Excise Tax Revenue.
Amendment 1 is not surprising to me. Earlier this year, representatives from the United Way Washtenaw County (UWWC) and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) reached out to individual City Council members to discuss the City proposal for a Universal Basic Income (UBI). It happens that the UWWC and AAACF are co-funding a pilot program for exactly this – direct cash assistance to families – and they have already identified a platform for administering it at the county level. You can learn more about it here:
The current proposal for a City UBI suggests that we duplicate a program already being organized at the county level. I support the concept of a UBI and I believe that the City can play a role in funding it. However, given that this work is already happening at the County level, I expect that there will be opportunities for the City to offer funding in the future, without taking on the task of administration.
I am interested in hearing about what we might fund with Amendment 1, which would allocate $1.6 million toward investment in the next construction season. There are a number of City improvements that have been delayed, due to funding challenges. One example is the Snyder/Edgewood stormwater improvement project, which has not moved forward since the most recent public meeting about it in November 2019. At that time, the estimated cost of the project was $2.9 million.
Amendment 2 is also not surprising to me. The amount proposed for supportive services – $500,000 – is consistent with funding recommendations that have been discussed before. In 2020, I cosponsored the Affordable Housing Millage. After consulting with Jennifer Hall (director of the City’s Affordable Housing Commission), Council passed a resolution allowing that up to 20% of proceeds from the Affordable Housing Millage may be spent on supportive services. Amendment 2 is consistent with that percentage.
I am curious to know more about Amendment 3. It does not provide any additional funding for the local arts community, but it seems to prescribe something fairly specific (“arts-based trauma response programs”) and it’s not clear to me who or what we are funding to provide that.
I am one of the sponsors for Amendment 4, which will make use of Marijuana Excise Tax funds for Unarmed Response, in order to direct more money to Coordinated funding and support for individuals who are homeless. The state of Michigan recently announced how much money is due to local municipalities that participate in state licensing for marijuana dispensaries and the city of Ann Arbor will be receiving a significant sum: $1.4 million. I wrote about that here:
I look forward to discussion on Monday and I am excited about how these ARPA funds can be used to improve our community.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!