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, the biggest item on our agenda is the FY 2023 budget and proposed amendments. I have explained the amendments below in the “Additional Thoughts” section. Also note that item CA-11 officially adopts $24.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds into the budget, following allocations in a Council resolution passed on April 4, 2022.
In other City related news, Assistant City Administrator John Fournier recently interviewed with the city of Evanston for the position of City Manager, and has been offered the job:
I have an unusual scheduling conflict this weekend, related to my work outside of Council. The preschool where I teach will be participating in a Preschool Expo this Sunday afternoon, when I would typically be hosting my constituent coffee hours. The event is happening downtown at the Ann Arbor Public library from 1-4 PM, so I am planning to have coffee hours later, at a park close to downtown. For anyone in the market for a local preschool (or anyone who might want to stop by and say hello!), information about this event can be found here:
Washtenaw County High COVID-19 Community Level
On Thursday May 12th, County officials announced that Washtenaw County is at a high “COVID-19 Community Level”.
From the Washtenaw County website:
At this level, it is recommended that everyone wear a mask in indoor public locations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indoor public locations include K-12 schools and other indoor community settings. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should definitely wear a mask. Choose a multilayer surgical, KN95, or N95 mask rather than a cloth mask.
The CDC has a webpage to check the “COVID-19 Community Level” of any county in the country:
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!
Endorse, Host a Party, Walk Doors, Phone Calls
No donation necessary – let me know if you want a yard sign!
Any amount helps and shows your support!
Sunday May 15th 4:30pm
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons before City Council meetings. This week my coffee hours are 4:30pm in Forsythe Park (corner of Packard St and Arch St, near Jack’s Hardware).
City webpage about Forsythe Park:
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday May 16th 7:00pm
Council Meetings are in person at City Council chambers. Public commentary is available either in person or via phone/Zoom – see the Legistar link for details.
Ward 4 People & Places You Should Know
If you live in the Lower Burns Park neighborhood of Ward 4, you may already know about the Robert Hayden house. I first learned about Robert Hayden and his house last summer, when Council voted to establish a Historic District committee to make recommendations about the home at 1201 Gardner Avenue.
City staff prepared a memo at the time, explaining Robert Hayden (and his connection to Ann Arbor):
From the memo:
Robert Hayden made extraordinary contributions to American history, culture and poetry while residing at 1201 Gardner Avenue in the City of Ann Arbor. Designating his home as a single-resource historic district based on these contributions would further his legacy and raise awareness of his life and works.
Robert Hayden was born in Detroit in 1913. After a traumatic childhood, he attended Detroit City College, then enrolled in the University of Michigan in 1941 where he won a prestigious Hopwood Award for aspiring writers. After finishing his degree in 1942, Hayden taught at UofM for several years and was the first Black faculty member in Michigan’s English department. Hayden taught at Fisk University for over 20 years, but he and Erma returned to Ann Arbor, to 1201 Gardener Street, in 1969 where he taught at UofM until his death in 1980.
During the tumultuous ‘60s, Hayden was criticized for refusing to call himself a “black poet” (he called himself an “American poet”), though he wrote some of the most powerful black history poems in the English language. In 1976 Hayden was offered and accepted the position of Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (later called the Poet Laureate) – the first Black American to hold this position. He accepted and was reappointed in 1978.
Above is a picture of a US Postage Stamp issued in 2012 honoring Robert Hayden, recently given to me by an Ann Arbor friend.
On September 20, 2021, City Council voted to appoint members to the Hayden House Historic District Study Committee. I am revisiting this topic because just last month, that committee released a preliminary report with more details about Robert Hayden’s life and the house itself. You can find their 24 page report (4/26/22) here:
We are lucky to live in a community that has been (and continues to be) home to many remarkable people like Robert Hayden. He 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 May 5, 2022
The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.
A2Council.com Update for May 5, 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.
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.
Ann Arbor Public Safety Family Open House May 21 2022
The Ann Arbor Police and Fire departments will be holding an open house.
2022 Downtown Weekend Street Closures extended for Holiday Weekends
The downtown street closures will be extended on the holiday weekends for Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
City Installing 80 Electric Vehicle Charging Ports Downtown
The City and the DDA are supporting the installation of 80 electric vehicle charging ports in seven parking structures, more-than doubling the number of public charging points in the public parking system.
City Parks Open Space Survey Open Until June 5 2022
The City of Ann Arbor is updating the Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) Plan to identify goals, needs, trends and priorities for the next five years and beyond.
Survey on Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) open until June 30 2022
The Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovations has created an online survey titled “Are you interested in advancing a Sustainable Energy Utility?”
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 May 16, 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 (22-0886) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – May 16, 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 (22-0643) Appointments – Confirmations
These 46 appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. See the Legistar link for details.
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 (22-0834) Resolution to Close West Washington Street for the Ann Arbor YMCA Community Block Party on Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 9:00 AM until 8:00 PM
CA-2 (22-0833) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2022 Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade – Monday, July 4, 2022 from 8:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.
CA-3 (22-0836) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Firecracker 5K – Monday, July 4, 2022
CA-4 (22-0830) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the ALLIANCE (National Training Institute) Opening Ceremony Dinner – Sunday, July 31, 2022 from 6:00 AM to Midnight
CA-5 (22-0831) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the A2 Artoberfest from 6:00 AM on Friday, October 7, 2022 through 11:00 PM on Sunday, October 9, 2022
CA-6 (22-0761) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with the Downtown Development Authority for the South State Street Reconstruction Project
CA-7 (22-0631) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Fonson Company, Inc. for the South State Street Reconstruction Project ($6,727,358.01) and to Appropriate $9,083,000 in Contributing Funds (8 Votes Required)
CA-8 (22-0691) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate a Sub-Award of Federal Grant Funds ($374,738.00) from the University of Michigan for the Smart Intersections: Paving the Way for a National CAV Deployment Project ($487,121.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-9 (22-0716) Resolution to Approve a Professional Legal Services Agreement with Washtenaw County for Public Defender Services ($204,487)
CA-10 (22-0251) Resolution to Approve an Agreement Granting a Private Sanitary Sewer Lead Easement at 406 Maple Ridge (8 Votes Required)
CA-11 (22-0654) Resolution to Appropriate American Rescue Plan Funding ($24,182,630.00) (8 Votes Required)
Allocations for $24.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will be distributed according to a Council resolution passed on April 4, 2022 (Legistar link to that resolution)
- $4,500,000 Solar on City Facilities
- $3,500,000 Property Acquisition for Affordable Housing ($500,000 of this to be allocated to residential support services)
- $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 ($200,000 to be directed to “arts-based trauma response programs and workforce development”)
- $100,000 Liberty Plaza
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 scheduled for this meeting. Note that items B-1, B-2, DS-1, DS-2, DS-3, DS-4 had public hearings at the previous Council meeting as part of the FY2023 budget process.
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.
B-1 (22-0592) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-22-07)
The City’s water rates will increase by 6% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
B-2 (22-0585) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-22-08)
The City’s stormwater rates will increase by 4% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
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.
There are no ordinance first readings on the agenda.
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 (22-0739) Resolution to Appoint Lunia Oriol and Stephen Brown to the Environmental Commission
These re-appointments are from CM Disch and CM Griswold, who serve on the Environmental Commission. These were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Lunia Oriol – Environmental Commission
- Stephen Brown – Environmental Commission
DC-2 (22-0740) Resolution to Appoint Makiah Shipp, Bonnie Billups, and Randy Milgrom to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (7 Votes Required)
These re-appointments are from CM Ramlawi and CM Song, who serve on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, and CM Nelson and CM Radina, who serve on the Human Rights Commission. These were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Makiah Shipp – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Bonnie Billups – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Randy Milgrom – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
DC-3 (22-0741) Resolution to Appoint Rosanne Bloomer and Deaver Armstrong to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (7 Votes Required)
These re-appointments are from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. These were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Rosanne Bloomer – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
- Deaver Armstrong – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
DC-4 (22-0811) Resolution to Appoint Travis Radina and Elizabeth Nelson to the Renters Commission
These appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Travis Radina – Renters Commission
- Elizabeth Nelson – Renters Commission
DC-5 (22-0642) Resolution to Appoint Nonregistered Electors to Boards and Commissions (7 Votes Required)
These 7 appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the appointees are not registered electors of the City. See the Legistar link for details.
DC-6 (22-0095) Resolution to Begin Discussions with University of Michigan (U-M) of Net-Zero Affordable, Sustainable Workforce Housing
The City Administrator is directed to provide an opportunity for discussion between City Council members and U-M Regents to dialog about net zero energy Workforce Housing on U-M properties and elsewhere in the city, with the participation of stakeholder groups. The City Administrator will raise the issue of workforce housing at the quarterly U-M policy meetings and report progress to City Council, as appropriate, while soliciting the support of the Michigan Municipal League, the City’s lobbyist, the Chamber of Commerce, and any other local groups and leaders.
DC-7 (22-0883) Resolution to Support the Rights of Women to Access Abortion and Reproductive Health Services
By resolution, City Council reaffirms its support for women and individuals to access abortion and other reproductive rights services. The City Administrator and City Attorney’s Office is directed to take appropriate legal action, including but not limited to, filing amicus briefs in Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan and Governor Whitmer’s legal challenge of Act 328.
DC-8 (22-0890) Resolution to Approve the Employment Agreement with Milton Dohoney Jr. as City Administrator
As directed by a vote of Council on 3/21/22, an employment agreement with Milton Dohoney, Jr. has been negotiated. Mr. Dohoney will receive an annual base salary of $250,000, with no compensation adjustments for the first 24 months.
DS-1 (22-0607) Resolution to Approve FY 2023 Fee Adjustments for the Community Services Area
Fees for the Community Services area would be adjusted for FY 2023. A new $50 fee per lot (and/or per 1000 sq. feet) will apply to site plans. There will be new fees for permit application assistance, inspection processing, and paper applications. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
DS-2 (22-0640) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2023 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area – Engineering, Systems Planning, Public Works, and Water Treatment Units
Fees for the Public Services areas – Engineering, Systems Planning, Public Works, and Water Treatment Units – would be adjusted for FY 2023. Examples of such fees: engineering inspections, right of way permits, residential parking permits, staff review of planning petitions, bulk water, solid waste, and microbiological tests (see Legistar link for complete list). These fee adjustments are expected to increase revenue by an estimated $152,298. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
DS-3 (22-0577) Resolution to Approve FY 2023 Fee Adjustments for the Fire Department
Fees for the fire department would be adjusted for FY 2023. Fees for annual liquor and marijuana licenses and inspection services have not increased since 2018. The increases reflect the cost of service and higher expenses such as labor, materials and supplies, equipment, and overhead costs. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
DS-4 (22-0699) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2023
This is the City’s proposed budget for FY 2023. General Fund recurring expenses have increased by 3.4% ($3,915,640) compared to FY 2022’s adopted budget; recurring revenues have increased by 4.5% ($5,075,679). The FY 2023 budget includes a total of 16 additional full time employees (FTE) in City departments: Parks & Rec, Building & Rental, Public Services, City Attorney, Police, Fire, and Downtown Development Authority. Ten additional FTE’s will be permitted on a temporary basis as part of the workforce planning initiative. There was a public hearing for this item at the previous Council meeting.
CITY BUDGET AMENDMENTS
The biggest item on this week’s agenda is final approval of the City Budget for FY 2023. Our last meeting included public hearings for all related fee and rate adjustments attached to the Budget. This week will include discussion of four proposed Budget amendments submitted by Council Members and reviewed by Staff. Below is explanation of those amendments.
For reference, the budget amendments are attached to the item DS-4 in this week’s agenda:
DS-4 (22-0699) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2023
This is a direct link to the budget amendment document:
USE OF MARIJUANA EXCISE TAX FUNDS (AMENDMENTS 1 & 3)
Proposed Amendments 1 and 3 direct spending of the $935,336 Marijuana Excise Tax fund revenue recently received for FY 2023. These funds come from the State of Michigan as revenue and are technically “non-recurring” insofar as the amount of money expected year to year is not yet a stable/predictable number.
Last year (March 15, 2021), Council unanimously approved a resolution directing and limiting the use of Marijuana Excise Tax Fund revenue to the following purposes:
- Emergency Services response that include mental health and substance use disorder professionals;
- Programs for substance abuse intervention, treatment and recovery support services;
- Education and enrichment programs for at-risk youth; and
- Innovation grants toward promoting criminal diversion and expungement, support for formerly incarcerated members of our community, and other criminal justice reform initiatives;
I wrote about it at the time:
The whole of that 2021 resolution can be found here:
Resolutions are typically written in two parts: WHEREAS clauses offering background and context and RESOLVED clauses directing specific action. RESOLVED clauses from resolutions like the one above – directing incoming funds to specific purposes moving forward and in future budgets – are traditionally honored until Council votes to reverse that directive. E.g. Allocations of the Public Safety & Community Mental Health millage rebate toward affordable housing, climate action, and pedestrian safety (the “40/40/20 split”) were established by a 2017 Council resolution; a Council vote to lift those restrictions was vetoed by the Mayor in 2019 and again in 2020.
It is worth noting that Amendment 3 refers to WHEREAS clauses in explaining how the allocations comply with the 2021 resolution. The programs and purposes listed in this amendment are undeniably worthy of discussion and investment. However, to the extent that any specific allocations of these funds might not comply with the RESOLVED clauses in the 2021 resolution, City Council would have to affirmatively vote to reverse the previous directive.
I look forward to substantive discussion about what each of these allocations will support in terms of community need. I am curious to hear, also, how these allocations comply with the Council resolution (approved unanimously last year) regarding use of the Marijuana Excise Tax Fund revenue.
Sponsors: Nelson and Ramlawi
- $567,400 (non-recurring) for the purpose of creating a Deflection Program within the FY 2023 City Attorney’s Office.
- $35,000 (non-recurring) for the purpose of a school backpack and supplies program within the FY 2023 Community Development General Fund budget.
- $332,936 (non-recurring) for the purpose of Coordinated Funding with Washtenaw County within the FY 2023 Community Development budget.
Sponsors: Briggs, Disch, Grand, Radina, and Song
- $572,000 (non-recurring) to establish a Deflection Pilot Program, including gathering data on the population served and success rate
- $100,000 (non-recurring) for a Public Works Apprenticeship Program for entry-level Public Works positions
- $100,000 (non-recurring) for Utility Support for Residents in Need through Barrier Busters
- $75,000 (non-recurring) to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, to provide planning support for the creation of a BIPOC Small Business Development Space on the first floor of 121 E. Catherine Street
- $60,000 (non-recurring) to the Office of Sustainability and Innovation for the Low-Income Sustainability Grants Program
- $28,336 (non-recurring) to the Washtenaw County’s Child Savings Account (CSA) Program, establishing asset-building accounts for BIPOC and/or low-income children, dedicated for expenses associated with postsecondary education
OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION (AMENDMENT 2)
In Amendment 2, funding for Sustainability Grants are proposed to come from the General Fund fund balance. Note that Sustainability Grants would receive a total of $300,000 if Council approves both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3. I look forward to hearing more information about what, specifically, these Sustainability grants are likely to fund and for how many people/households.
Sponsors: Briggs, Disch, Eyer, Grand and Song
- $240,000 (non-recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund fund balance to the Office of Sustainability and Innovation for a Low-income Sustainability Grants Program, in order to help residents pay for some of the upfront costs of improvements to make their homes safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more sustainable.
CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE (AMENDMENT 4)
Funding for the items in Amendment 4 (below) will come from the General Fund fund balance and General Fund surplus for FY 2023. All of these items have been recommended and requested by new City Attorney, Atleen Kaur. This budget amendment is part of Ms Kaur’s current work actively assessing and identifying needs in our City Attorney’s office, and has been submitted by the Council Administration Committee.
Sponsors: Taylor, Eyer, Grand, Griswold and Radina (Council Administration Committee)
- Add 1.0 FTE for an Assistant City Attorney to the FY 2023 General Fund budget within the City Attorney’s Office
- $165,252 (recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund surplus to the City Attorney’s Office for the additional 1.0 FTE.
- $20,000 (non-recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund fund balance to the City Attorney’s Office for one-time implementation costs for the replacement of CityLaw software.
- $48,000 (recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund surplus to the City Attorney’s Office for the annual software maintenance costs for the replacement of CityLaw software.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!