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Posted on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

20 positions eliminated in Ann Arbor police and fire departments as city budget cuts take effect

By Ryan J. Stanton

A total of 20 positions in Ann Arbor's police and fire departments are effectively eliminated today as the city begins its 2011-12 fiscal year.

Seven active employees in police — including four officers, two dispatchers and one service specialist — are now laid off as part of city budget cuts taking effect.

Additionally, six other vacant positions in police — including two officer openings — are not being filled. Seven vacant firefighter positions also are being removed from the budget.


Ann Arbor Police Officer Janel Hansen and other members of the police department protest outside of city hall recently.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We had some additional retirements in fire, so we will not have any layoffs in fire," noted CFO Tom Crawford, Ann Arbor's interim city administrator.

Outside of public safety, the city is trimming another 10 vacant positions, bringing the city's total employee count down from 736 to 706 — about 30 percent less than a decade ago. The police department is the only area of the city where actual layoffs are occurring.

The cuts leave Ann Arbor in a precarious situation: The city would need to more than double staffing levels in police to meet national standards at this point.

Meanwhile, the fire department is seeing its ranks decrease from 89 to 82 full-time career firefighters, leaving the city with 0.72 firefighters per 1,000 residents.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the average full-time career fire department in the U.S. has about 1.72 firefighters per 1,000 residents.

"Frankly, we just disagree with this. It's not the right thing to do," said Matt Schroeder, president of the firefighters union. "But the city's made the decision to do this. Certainly they have not based their decision on any kind of research or data-driven material."

Crawford expressed disappointment that the police and fire unions wouldn't agree to health care concessions to save some of the positions being cut. He said two positions in fire and four in police could have been spared had the unions stepped up.

The city has been asking the unions for months to switch over to a lower-cost health care plan similar to the one afforded to the city's nonunion employees.

The police officers union voted 76-31 this week to reject a four-year contract that included health care concessions. Police union officials have said they don't want to budge on health care because of concerns related to years of exposure to radon and asbestos in city hall.

Jamie Adkins, the union's vice president of bargaining, issued a statement today accusing city officials of taking "the easy way out" in cutting the budget.


Jamie Adkins

"These reductions, along with the other 69 sworn personnel we have lost over the past 10 years have put the Ann Arbor Police Department at a distinct disadvantage," she said. "We have transitioned from a proactive police force, serving the community to prevent crime, to a reactive police force."

Contrary to what city officials have stated, Adkins said there has been an impact on police service levels already, and the latest cuts only make matters worse.

Adkins said city officials have "done a disservice to the professionals who help to bring order to the out-of-control situations. And they have done a tremendous disservice to the citizens of Ann Arbor in reducing the number of professionals who protect them day and night."

Each of the officers being laid off had more than five years on the job, while the police service specialist had 13 years. One of the dispatchers had been on the job three and a half years, while the other had been on the job a year and a half.

Crawford said there may be opportunities for some of the police department employees to bump into other vacancies within the city.

"Where we have vacancies in other parts of the organization, some of the people may move to one of those positions," he said. "So whether they are gone or not — gone-gone — I don't know. But I know they're out of the safety services."


Matt Schroeder

Crawford sounded confident in Police Chief Barnett Jones' ability to make sure the police department maintains a proactive presence on the streets of Ann Arbor.

"What the chief of police has done is maintain the staffing on patrol, so he has done this in a way that he's not reducing the staffing on the street," Crawford said.

With fewer firefighters on the job, Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard said he plans on temporarily taking one of the two downtown fire trucks out of service if daily staffing levels fall too low.

He said that will allow the department to end the practice of closing one of the city's five fire stations on a rotating basis, which the union says has increased response times.

"We'll have to see what happens," Hubbard said. "We're still going to perform professionally and responsibly and do our jobs, and time will tell how things are going to play out."

Schroeder said it's still a bad situation.

"The tower is a crucial part of our operation downtown, and not being able to use that puts us at a disadvantage," he said, adding it could prove dangerous not having use of the truck in case of a fire in a high-rise. "We don't support the decision in any way, shape or form."

Hubbard said two of the seven firefighter retirements, which spared layoffs, came this month. Three more firefighters are going to retire in the next week, saving the other remaining jobs.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Sun, Jul 3, 2011 : 3:12 a.m.

As a fellow law enforcement brother I feel for A2 officers. I know that year after year they have to deal with potential lay offs. Having to worry about that, for at least the last five years that I know of, takes a toll on a person. I am disappointed in A2 for letting these Officers go. At the same time, I am disappointed in the union members for not making concessions in order to save four of your brothers jobs. You were asked to pay some of your health care. Ten percent I believe which would have come out to about $100 or so a month. It was extremely selfish of the bargaining members to vote against that. In my Agency we pay some of our health premiums. For family coverage I pay $390 a month so i don't think that $100 a month is much of a sacrifice. I am one of the senior Agents at my station and if my giving up another $100 a month would save four of my brothers jobs, I would do it in a heart beat. I would be willing to bet anything that even though these Officers have lost their jobs, thanks to the selfish bargaining members, you all are still going to have to pay that 10 percent down the road. In today's economy, you are not going to be able to continue to get away with not making concessions. Sad for Ann Arbor and even more sad for the four brothers whose jobs could have been saved.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Here are what some other cities are doing to save money according to the Detroit News. I know one reader pointed out that the city of Troy Police Department took some contract concessions but this is what their government did as compared to A2s. "Even Troy, a relatively wealthy community, faces closure of its library next month." "Warren's elected officials are poised to take a 15% pay cut. The measure, approved Wednesday by the City Council, now goes before the city's Elected Officials Compensation Commission. "We're asking employees to take hits in pay and compensation," he said. "I don't think it's fair that we're not doing anything" To date in the current fiscal year, Ann Arbor has spent $119,032.78 on cell phone charges, and $147,760 on cell phone allowances according to information contained in FOIAed documents. Third Ward Councilmember Stephen Kunselman commented that the issue of whether city staff should enjoy such a wide variety of perks costing taxpayers millions has already been addressed. He commented via email on the issue of perks for city staff members in light of cuts to police, fire and other citizen services: "I have been under the impression that these issues have been addressed where needed; if they haven't then they will be if there is any impropriety." (A2Polictico) "All total, Ann Arbor taxpayers fork out over $100,000 in car allowance and mileage reimbursement money each year to 25 highly-paid, non-unionized city managers, most of whom have desk jobs"(A2Politico) In June of 2010 Jim Fouts, Mayor of Warren, Michigan cut the cell phone allowances of all the 125 municipal city employees who had been receiving the money. Fouts also eliminated the monthly car allowances paid to city employees. Fouts told the Macomb Daily, "These are austere times, and sacrifices have to be made by everyone."

shadow wilson

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

If you all want to know when there might be an increase in safety services I will venture to say it will be when the Mayor or a member of council or some higher up city admin or Univ person is victimized.....this could be an assault or a car break-in or house break-in etc. And if it were to happen at off hours with Police staffing at a minimum then response time will seem like forever.And that might cause things to change. Ann Arbor is safe for now.But don't be callow and not think that criminals are not aware of things.They know what cities are easy targets and where Police services have been compromised.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

@ Vivienne Armentrout "We need a city income tax! It is the only way to benefit (as a city government and service center) from the University of Michigan's enormous physical plant (which we are obligated by state law to provide fire protection)" You're right Ms. Armentrout - the police union ASKED to pay an income tax to offset budget problems . . . the Mayor nixed that because a City wide income tax would hurt his cozy relationship with the U of M. This town is being endangered. The residents and businesses are kicked aside for a politician's own gain. Very sad indeed.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

"The police officers union voted 76-31 this week to reject a four-year contract that included health care concessions. Police union officials have said they don't want to budge on health care because of concerns related to years of exposure to radon and asbestos in city hall." I am aware of the radon issue. I am unaware that the radon has been linked to any illness. This is a fiscal issue, not a health issue and even if the union agreed to HC concessions, would that interfere with the level of health care? I doubt it. "We have transitioned from a proactive police force, serving the community to prevent crime, to a reactive police force." Unsupportable rhetoric. How do you know you prevented a crime that was not committed? Do the criminals tell you so? While I have always felt the city treated AAPD poorly, both AAPD and AAFD are outstanding department quality wise. But it was disappointing to read these two sentences when unions nationwide are doing so. The union is an much to blame here as the city. The only way I could support the unions is if they offered some examples of non essential spending the city engages in that could save these positions. If the money is not there, it is not there.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Why would the police union accept the contract when they know next year the city will still lay off those four officers plus more? They just did that to the FD last year and Roger Fraser said he would not cut if a union accepted concessions? Guess what would have happened without the retirements in the FD? Several firefighters would be laid off. Good old Roger said he wouldn't cut from them. One thing I give credit to those union members are that they are intelligent. When you have less officers in the department then you have less resources to stop crime. Less officers on the street means less officers in their free time finding criminals committing crime. Instead the officers will be responding to their calls for service. Less detectives in the police department means less follow up on cases and no follow up on some. Means criminals are still able to commit crimes as less cases are investigated. I just posted a response including ways the city could curb costs and show the unions that they are doing everything they can do to help curb costs. They though do not do that. Other cities are doing it though.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Radon is linked to lung cancer. While one could not prove that a particular, individual, crime was prevented, the crime statistics would reflect a trend. Statistically, when the police are out in the community, crime in the areas frequented decreases significantly.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

How about the 1.6 million to various charity orginaiztions. Do you feel the goverent should be in the charity business. Sounds lime a good example of non essential spending to me. Looks the money is there to me


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

This is totally disgusting. Shut down DDA and you would probably have more funds that needed. I still have not been able to see the need for this organization, try as I may. And, the one time I had to deal with them it was an extremely bad experience with mostly getting a real run around.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 12:07 a.m.

but, don't you remember when we elected them? not!


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

According to the story on the summer tax bills: "City records show total city property tax collections in Ann Arbor actually grew from $54.1 million to $81.9 million from 2001 to 2010." So, I don't believe hizzoner and company when they claim that they don't have the money. They can always find money to spend on their pet projects.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

A2 voted for these elected leaders, (oops officials) and now you wonder why? Kinda like the current administration, they have no clue.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Likje I said a few days ago on a posting surrounding the UMHS nurses negotiations- when all of the public service professions have been reduced down to sub-minimal numbers what happens then?? Police- gone. Firefighters/ paramedics- gone.. Teachers- gone. Non-union nurses have been going for some time now and those in a union are fighting to stay afloat. Here's a prediction: in the future there will be more and more "private" police and EMS/ fire services located within the boundaries of areas like Barton Hills but will be funded by tax payer dollars. Looks like it's time to dust off my copy of Animal Farm (the corporate edition).


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

The Village of Barton Hills has their own constable, but also has law enforcement service from the county sheriff. The Ann Arbor Township Fire Department provides fire protection, in the village.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Am wondering how the drop in fire staffing affects our insurance rates. In other areas where I lived, the rate an individual paid for fire insurance was increased or reduced based on how adequate the fire department response is to save property value for the area. We might be saving money in one place (city budget) and paying for the position losses in another area (increased fire coverage premiums). Something to research?


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

The city's ISO rating will change, significantly. That will affect insurance rates of all properties that the city provides coverage for. The AAFD has already established a policy of only doing defensive firefighting, unless there is a savable person in the building. The increased loss of property will, most likely, affect insurance rates.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Those laid off cops ought to be picketing their brother officers who voted down by a wide margin concessions that would have saved their jobs. My negative experience with unions is exactly the same. The high-seniority old bulls wouldn't give up one dollar to save the jobs of the low seniority members. I hope the old bulls remember that act of folly and greed when they need immediately help but back-up is 20 minutes away.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Unions eat their young. I think the laid of officers and FFs should get the union dues back they have paid during their tenure. That should be the law if a union could have saved the jobs by making reasonable cuts in compensation.

mike gatti

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

How can any of our leaders actually look constituents in the eye and say that losing 73 (69 previous + 4 laid off now) sworn police officers in a department this size has not and will not have an effect on police protection? Perhaps in a department the size of New York or Chicago 69 sworn officers is not huge but when you are going from 195 or so to 120 or so, that is a huge difference. The article doesn't elaborate but it is disconcerting to read that the police department would have to double at this point to "meet national standards." It doesn't say whose standards or what standards but that seems bad to me. No council member or the Mayor were reached for comment on this?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

The sign the woman is holding in the picture says that the AAPD keeps us safe. I don't see anything safe about bored cops pointing their guns at citizen's faces out of boredom, which is an activity that officers in that department engage in: <a href=""></a> Before supporting the police, consider how much support they really have for you.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Aawolve...give it a rest it was something that happen years ago and not relevant to the present police cuts.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

They engage in ? Your'e siting a story that happened decades ago ? OOk


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

There are about 730 city employees. There seem to be (from adding numbers in the article) about 200 police and firefighters. Yet 20 reductions are coming from the 200 public safety employees (10%), and only 10 reductions from the remaining 500 employees (2%). And public safety, as manifest by the fire and police departments is arguably the single most important function of city government. All this smacks of very bad (or politically motivated) management, now and in the past.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

But Public safety is typically the largest line item budget expenditure for cities, that is why they are typically cut more and more often.

gern blanstead

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Police, Fire and every other public employees need to work like the rest of the world. In the private sector, if you are a salaried employee, there is no overtime pay. (you are either paid by the hour, or you are not) In the private sector, you take the income you are paid each week and YOU put money aside from YOUR salary and save for your retirement. When you retire YOU pay for your health Insurance. And here is another thing, In the private sector, you retire at retirement age65, not at 45. People are living to be 90 years old today. Do you really think we can afford to pay people in public service 50 years who have only worked 18 22 years like many fire and police unions have negotiated? No. Every Union employee should have to own their own company at some point and see how absurd it is to think you can work 22 years and retire and be paid full retirement with health insurance the rest of your life. (which could be 40 years) Money does not drop out of the sky, even if you rake tax payers to do it. There comes a time, and that is now when the gig is up and municipalities are going to say, &quot;We can't afford this anymore.&quot; Unions, you have been told for decades, &quot;We can't afford these entitlements,&quot; now it comes down to this, we can't afford YOU. Had you understood a salary is this (you are paid a flat fee regardless of overtime) A retirement is this...age 65, not ag 45. Health insurance is paid by you when you retire, not the tax payer. Retirement pensions were designed to be paid for 5-10 years not 40, like many retiring police and fire will get. They will far outlive any amount they contributed to their pensions. I have had to listen to them brag at parties what a joke it is they worked only 23 years and will retire with a pension that will pay them for 40. Now try getting a salaried private sector job that pays you overtime like you are hourly. Retire at 40? Never. Get paid 40 years for working 20? ha!

try your best

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

Wow, What police, fire or public sector job did you get rejected for? I think you have taken every extreme example of union jobs and tried to say this is the norm. You can not prove this to be what most police and fire employees get. &quot;Retirement pensions were designed to be paid for 5-10 years not 40, like many retiring police and fire will get. They will far outlive any amount they contributed to their pensions&quot; do you know what compounding interest is over 25 to 30 years? Nearly all retiring police and fire employees will not get a 40 year Payout on their pension. Your fustrations are aimed at the wrong people. Everything unions have was given by the other side. Be mad at management if you don't think it's fair.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

Maybe instead of everyone having to come down to your level maybe you should unionize and fight to get to their level. All those things you cite sound pretty dang good and should be things that all americans have.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

I agree that the benefits are excessive. But I see that as a failure of management to resist the union demands. The job of the union is to make demands. The job of management is to agree to only those demands that can be supported. The failure of management in this regard goes back many years.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> How about cutting corporate taxes while simultaneously eliminating the earned income tax credit? That work for you?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Well A: the content of the article is factually correct and B: they were proposals in March, and once the governor's budget passed, they ceased just being proposals.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

Well A-that is not exactly a non-biased web site and B- according to said site those are just proposals as of now.So as of now his buddies are not benefiting.Also what is his connections to said corporations ? Is it just assumed that because he is/was a businessman that anything he doe's concerning corporations is benefiting his &quot; buddies &quot;?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

I'm constantly reading comments on how Synder is helping his &quot; millionaire buddies and his cronies &quot; etc.. I've asked this question before and have yet to get an answer.Would someone PLEASE give me one JUST one of an example of this.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

People are misleading about it. Companies are not getting money. The Gov's plan was to cut business taxes, a strategy being implemented around the country to make a state more attractive to expand business or draw business from high tax states. Just saw this article and Michigan has a way to go. I do not support the source as valid, so determine your own opinion: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>|topstates|&amp;par=msn

Steve Pepple

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

A comment containing a personal attack against another commenter has been removed, along with a response to comment.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Put a DEMOCRAT in office &amp; They'll ruin our country &amp; cities. THEY ARE OUR DOWNFALL!!

Greg Gunner

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

Another example of Slick Rick's job creation program. Snyder Plan: more money for business cronies, minus public sector jobs = net job loss, lower wages, less money available for discretionary spending, and fewer consumers out buying. Quite the plan, Rick.

Mike K

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

The private sector produces taxes Greg. The public sector consumes them. Get it? Why do I bother?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

wow, please enlighten us how anything that rick snyder has done in the past 6 months or so as govenor of our state that has been so determential to AA that that had to go through with these cuts???? Please do tell.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

What cronies ?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

The gov. has nothing to do with Ann Arbor's budget problems. AA has been facing these issues long before the governor came into office.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

This budget of laying off police officers is not about Ronald Reagan, but about a city governed by individuals who fund pet projects at the expense of basic city functions such as police, fire, and roads. They fund bike paths and fountains, traffic circles and the BIG DIG, and a huge new city hall, all while ignoring critical city services.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:55 a.m.

I'd like to see UM pay for Fire Protection Services. As far as the city wasting money, who builds a $50 million underground garage without a project in place to go on top of it? And how many cars need to pay to park for x years to pay $30 million in fees? Lastly, the new train center project is clearly a UM parking garage, so let's call it that. I believe that A2 clearly benefits from having UM. But the university pushes that advantage too far.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

I have not heard of a change, but the state is supposed to pay cities for fire coverage at universities. Do you have any info that the city will be funding the proposed parking facility at the &quot;train center?&quot; I was under the impression the UM would be funding a good portion of that and the cities excitement about it was its connection with the high speed train project pushed by the President and Rep Dingell. I am not in favor of the train but I think the opposition to the parking structure is nil. That land is not used for anything

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

On the same day the summer tax bills are mailed....


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:42 a.m.

I would like to point out that the number of police hasn't been shown to correlate to crime increase or decease. It's more about how government uses them.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:34 a.m.

Well-- the city is run by people who have really not done their job. We have no fiscal responsibility here -- we have too high of wages for these public employees and this was done via the liberal thought process that permeates Ann Arbor. The unions support dems , dems and unions then negotiate contracts for the unions --then the taxpayer foots the bill. No we have nothing but liberals running our beautiful town and they have mismanaged our beautiful town. We can correct this but we will need to start to have change here in ANn Arbor. We need more fiscally responsible members of city council and a Mayor that is able to do the job -- the current mayor is really a failure.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Whether you are right or wrong, the voters have chosen to re-elect the same council members or new members with the same ideology. Thus right or wrong in any of our opinions, the majority of voters are okay with the policy decisions made. With this story, only time will tell if some tragedy could be the result of these cuts.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:14 a.m.

Not one administrator cut???? Cut the number of administrators in half and no one would ever notice.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

And...again, the administrators also receive pensions......yet nothing is cut on the upper echelon. And these are the people who contract with the police and fire staff. The people in charge. The people with the keys to the vault. Cutting police officers did nothing to resolve the pension issues. And be assured, those in charge will always take care of themselves first. Look what happened to Roger. How much is he suffering for the problems as he gets a fat pension from A2 and goes to work for the state where he can earn even MORE pension?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:45 p.m. dead on correct


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

Cash: I'm not sure what you mean by your last statement. When I say structural budget problems I'm talking about the long-term obligations (a year after year problem) the city has to cover which primarily centers on the pensions of police and fire workers who have long ago retired. Those pensions are eating up more and more of the Ann Arbor budget. This isn't a unique problem to Ann Arbor but it is one the city must address. I don't know what the answer is. Perhaps raise the retirement age. Cut the pension benefits. Raise the amount of money workers contribute. Who knows. But until the pension issue is addressed seriously Ann Arbor will have serious budget problems year after year.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

The structual problem is Ann Arbor is too many chiefs and not enough indians.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

That still doesn't solve the structural budget problems in the city budget that relates only to fire and police.

Les Gov

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 9:58 a.m.

&quot;The city has been asking the unions for months to switch over to a lower-cost health care plan similar to the one afforded to the city's nonunion employees.&quot;....The police are as greedy as the teachers. The police want golden benefits on the back of the taxpayers, while the taxpayers paying for the police benefits receive much less.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Put your life on the line every day, BIG MAN.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 8:18 a.m.

Lowering the staffing levels of the police and fire departments, for whatever political reasons, is extremely short sighted on the part of this administration and potentially detrimental, even dangerous, to the future health and safety of every individual in the area.

Attempted Voice of Reason

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:02 a.m.

Let's not forget the City is spending $50 million on an underground parking garage (that isn't getting anything built on top of it) and is about to spend many millions more on a parking garage for U of M on city parkland. (Which they're trying to spin as the &quot;Fuller Road Station&quot;, even though it will never have buses or trains stop at it.) This money could cover untold years of operating losses and restore or police and fire departments. Isn't it suspicious that the Mayor, the biggest proponent of the project, is also employed by the University and stands to get a big bonus if he can push the deal through? Crime is up. And we're cutting more cops. Our mayor and council have become completely insane or corrupt. In the short term, everybody needs to flood the mayor and council with e-mails, phone calls, and personal visits to get them to restore our basic city services and stop wasting money on pet projects. In a longer term, we need to look at recalls of our elected officials and potential criminal investigations into Hieftje's glaring conflicts of interest. It's not only Detroit that's run by incompetent and corrupt officials. To the council members facing election this fall: Know that your records on these pet projects are public, and that even if recalls fail, you will face a difficult fight this fall. I urge you to, at the minimum, restore our public safety and cancel city funding of the Fuller Road parking garage. You are squandering our funds at putting us at risk. Please do the right thing.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 8:20 a.m.

Right on, Attempted Voice of Reason!

Lifelong A2

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

Most of these comments miss the bigger issue: Most of these reductions could have been avoided if the police and fire unions had made minor concessions in their benefits. The concessions sought by the City were not draconian. The employees still would have had top-notch insurance and paid less for it than most private AND public sector employees. They still would have had a generous pension. Police and fire personnel throughout Michigan -- Lansing and Troy just this week -- have given mild concessions to reduce layoffs in their communities. Only in Ann Arbor do the unions refuse to make any financial sacrifice and instead demand that taxpayers continue to subsidize their excessive benefits packages.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

I for one am not buying that there's 76 individuals who agrees with this post...just a plant for the negotiators...


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

&quot;Most of these reductions could have been avoided if the police and fire unions had made minor concessions in their benefits.&quot; Who believes that statement would be my first question? &quot;The concessions sought by the City were not draconian. The employees still would have had top-notch insurance and paid less for it than most private AND public sector employees.&quot; You seem to be in the know, what were the concessions? Describe this &quot;top-notch&quot; insurance.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Untrue. When the AAFD agreed to a 4% cut in salary last year - the city went forward with lay-off's anyway. So this year, when they were asked to make a concession in health care, they asked for a promise it would be in exchange for no lay-offs. A reasonable trade-off, in my opinion. The city wouldn't agree to it. That would be because they wanted the concessions, but also wanted to be able to STILL take positions away. What is the incentive there for the AAFD to make these concessions? They should just give and get nothing in return? You really believe that is negotiating in good faith?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:40 a.m.

Good point. The police and fire pensions are what's eating the city's budget. I think people need to realize paying these people decades after they leave service their salary is a bad government model to follow.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 7:08 a.m.

You have missed the bigger issue; a city administration that won't spend the people's money on the people! The city is flush with cash squirreled away in various &quot;buckets&quot;. The police and firefighters have already made concessions and still have received the shaft; meanwhile the top administrators in the city (many of whom don't live here) continue to receive generous pay and perks.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:24 a.m.

Why should we ask the police and fire department cut their benefits? Everyone supports the U of M nurses and their benefits. The police and fire departments put their lives on the line all of the time.

Jeff Richard

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:57 a.m.

Someone help me understand, In my neighborhood in NW AA, the city is spending considerable money to replace sidewalks...nearly every street corner. The cost has got to be significant. There is nothing wrong with the sidewalks, yet we spend money on this and make cuts that impact public safety. Is this earmarked dollars for sidewalk repair? How about the brilliant fence they put around AA Pioneer High School and the very nice professional landscaping they did in back of the school this past year. Hey folks....these projects add up! No business would ever spend money like this with budget issues pending. Fiscal responsibility please.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

If they're at the street corners, they're probably ADA compliance projects, so we don't have a lot of choice. That work *could* come out of our Act-51 state gas tax money, or it could come as an assessment on the local property owners. Neither of those sources could be used for non-transportation or other projects. In any case, the city has probably planned this work for some time. And ADA-compliant sidewalks are done for safety. Just be thankful you're not in a wheelchair, or you'd know that. You're probably right about the landscaping though. Public budgets get *very* territorial, so everyone tries very hard to *never* give up money. I bet if you asked (and actually got a response), they'd say it was planned years ago. So?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Way to get to the heart of the matter, sally.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

&quot;AA Pioneer High School&quot;? Why not just &quot;Pioneer High School&quot;? Is there another Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor or even Washtenaw County that would cause confusion? It is silly to call it &quot;AA Pioneer High School&quot; instead of just &quot;Pioneer High School&quot;


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:43 a.m.

@stuart brown: thank thank you for pointing out the obvious: hieftje &amp; his wife are both u/m employees. that says it all. one thing is for certain: i f my home burns, we are robbed or harmed in any way &amp; pd or fd response time is even a second longer than it should be in a comparable city: i will be reaching into some verrry deep pockets.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

&quot;Just pathetic city management&quot; Well said. Ann Arbor should be embarrassed that we are stooping to this level with the financial resources that we have. Time to vote these clowns out of office. Every one of them.

Terrin Bell

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

I hope the rich are enjoying those tax breaks as the rest of us pay for them with less essential city services.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:38 a.m.

What are you talking about? Is there some tax break that the rich get that we don't in Ann Arbor?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Wait, you mean you want taxpayer money to fund things like police and fire departments? Sounds like socialism to me!

John B.

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.


Stuart Brown

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

These cuts are a real outrage! The city has let $28 million build up in the Streets Repair fund while Ann Arbor streets have cratered. The city has spent and will spend millions on building projects while laying off critical workers doing safety related work in the city. The city collected $55 million in property taxes in 2000 and had over 120 firefighters. Now the city collects over $80 million in property taxes and has around 80 firefighters on staff. The more tax money the city collects, the more it deprives citizens of the services they are paying for. These layoffs reflect opportunistic tactics by the administration (taking advantage of the high unemployment rate) rather than fiscal necessity. The city has millions of dollars in various buckets that could be spent on maintaining critical city services but refuses to since if wishes to preserve these funds for pet projects. Citizens should NOT vote to renew the Streets Repair Fund this November since the city does not believe in using the tax dollars the citizens have voted it on the citizen's needs.

Stuart Brown

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Jack, it is amazing how some people can stick to the party line despite concrete evidence to the contrary. I was very specific in regards to the amount of money in Streets fund, the amount of property tax revenue collected by the city in 2000 and 2010 and the number of full time firefighters in 2000 and 2010 as well; you did not speak to any of this evidence and simply ignored it! Yes, there is not enough money in the pot to pay for all of Hieftje's &quot;vision&quot; and basic safety services, so something had to give (Hieftje decided for us that police and fire would be cut.) How much you want to bet that the average voter in Ann Arbor would disagree with this if said voter were fully informed on the issue? The city has gone to great lengths to keep most voters in the dark by creating opaque &quot;buckets&quot; to hide money in so the city can manufacture a bogus funding crisis in the General Fund (but you already new this.)


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

Ah, yes, the mythical millions at the end of the rainbow. I am stunned at how many people believe there is hidden money in the city government. Just look at how many readers agree with Mr. Brown. Agreed, to believe so is an easy way out. Easy solutions are ever so attractive and - easy. - There really is no problem, just city officials hiding money. - For what purpose? To tick you off? There is no money. This is not the federal government, which itself is in colossal debt. Yes, financial mistakes are sometimes made, money is wasted. That is in the nature of being human. But from what I read on these pages, people yell if money is spent on a particular fund (Greenbelt, e.g., which the vast majority of citizens voted for thinking it would make their homes more valuable) and officials insist on spending the money on just that (as state fiscal law requires), and they yell if they believe money specified for one purpose is spent for another (which usually requires Council approval). Can't win, can they? Police and Fire had the choice of contributing, as do all non-union employees, towards their insurance. This would have been an immense help to our city and may have allowed officials to save some positions. Police and Fire apparently did not think the positions were important enough to save. Other departments have taken cuts throughout the last several years, but they haven't made a commotion about it. Readers don't seem to feel for those people who lost their jobs. As for the excuse of not contributing to benefits because of the radon in the basement, it's hogwash. The insurance coverage would be the same, only with more contributions from the union members. And believe me, the cost is far from backbreaking. There are many other people other than police that inhabitated that basement and virtually all employees spent some time there. They still have to pay for their insurance. And police make good salaries.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

Just pathetic city management. They let that Fraser guy anger the union endlessly, and antagonize them, and deal in bad faith, remember they took a paycut and he said he wouldn't lay anyone off, and then he went ahead and laid people off? When city officials bring somebody in to negotiate with the unions, they should have had someone credible, not a backstabby guy like that. Just pathetic.

Tom Joad

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

In case you haven't noticed we're broke. Tens of millions of Americans face persistent, perhaps permanent, unemployment as a result of the larges money grab ever foisted on the country. People built lives on their former economic station that was built on easy credit and profligate spending. The economy has shed those tens of millions of jobs due to offshoring work and increased efficiency. We are now relegated to a perennial welfare state as a result. There is no hope for creating jobs out of thin air. Best gird yourselves the best you can, and begin to stockpile savings and live well within your means.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:42 a.m.

Bull...this city is NOT broke

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1 a.m.

To any law enforcement that may be reading this: stop prosecuting and arresting people for non-violent victimless crimes and you will find that there is much more time to go after criminals whose behavior actually puts us in danger. We will be safer for it, and believe me, you will find much more support and respect from the community.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

They're far too valuable because of prohibition. The prices are artificially inflated. If it was legal, a bag of marijuana would barely be worth anything. Unfortunately, state law is still enforced here by LAWNET so I imagine the behavior of cultivators and dealers is similar to elsewhere, along with prices. We need to pull the rug out from under them and put them out of business by allowing legitimate vendors to sell it at prices so low someone would have to be completely crazy to do anything violent to acquire it. People also do go to prison for simple use or possession, it's usually just called &quot;intent to distribute&quot; (more than a couple days supply) or &quot;violation of probation.&quot;


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

The drugs themselves are not the problem, but the factors that surround their procurement. Property crimes and violent crimes are committed by persons generating &quot;income&quot; to obtain the drugs and those that supply them arm themselves to protect from being robbed or apprehended by the police. Marijuana is for all intensive purposes legal in A2 yet someone was just shot over it. There are many other instances where the drugs have perpetuated further crimes. It is a far more complex issue than just legalizing drugs all together. Nobody is getting sent to prison for having a little bag of weed.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 8:16 a.m.

Apologies for triple posting, but this is worthy of it: Thank you for stopping that wild man with a gun - it is a complete outrage that the city thanked you with a pink slip. Unbelievable. You should've been given a 6 week vacation in the tropics, not this. I don't think anyone outside of City Hall agrees with that action.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 8:13 a.m.

On a whim I did a quick search and found you're a member of the AAPD. Perhaps you're among the protesters above? I sympathize with the concerns about wage cuts, benefit cuts, and layoffs. I am concerned that if police salaries were cut too much it could also, as with any underpaid worker, drive some to corrupt behavior. I also understand most Ann Arbor police genuinely care about preventing violent crimes and this we do appreciate. But I hope you also understand why so many don't respect your profession anymore. As prison is almost always much more harmful than a drug of abuse, when a drug user is arrested and jailed, the police are naturally recognized as menacing and dangerous. As drug use is so widespread in our society, this perspective is similarly common. Again, I hope you know what's necessary to change this (the end of drug prohibition).

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 7:47 a.m.

Drug prohibition. Throwing people in prison for possessing something safer than alcohol when they are affecting no one but themselves. And yes, officers should choose not to enforce a law that amounts to persecution.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Seriously ? You want police officers to decide for themselves what laws to enforce ? Was there a law you were referring to ?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

Which crimes would you be speaking of?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

Just a sad day. Bottom line, the priorities in A2 government are all screwed up.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

We need a city income tax! It is the only way to benefit (as a city government and service center) from the University of Michigan's enormous physical plant (which we are obligated by state law to provide fire protection) and employee mass (which we are building a parking garage on Fuller, among other major transportation initiatives, like the Connector Study). The tax would not cause the UM to move out and actually I think that their officials would be ok with it. It would be only 0.5% on qualified income for out-of-town employees. The UM is simply not going to give the city money that they are not obligated to by law. The PILOT arrangements in other states are crippled in our case because the UM and certain other universities are literally written into the state constitution as autonomous governments. I am very sad about the continuous loss of our valuable city service-level staff, including the fire and police. It means that many city staff are trying to do a good job with increasing job demands and fewer resources. I started a blog post series on the city income tax some months ago. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It needs to be updated because of certain changes in state law with Rick Snyder's budget.

Stuart Brown

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

Vivienne, Nobody thought the city of Ann Arbor could not afford 120 firefighters in 2000-2001 when the city collected about $55 million in property taxes; so why can't the city afford the same number of firefighters in 2011 when the city is collecting more in property taxes in real terms? Note that the 2011 figure does not include the property taxes levied on the old Pfizer site. The city is playing a sick game of chicken with city employees and the residents of the city; the consequences of which really have me concerned. I know the mayor has publicly expressed doubts about an income tax but I believe this is simply posturing; he would love to have the extra revenue to play with. The problem I have with an income tax is that it is an attempt to make people who have no say-so in the matter contribute to the city's coffers. I believe an income tax will also be the beginning of a long term decline of the city as an increasing number of people choose to live elsewhere.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

arearesident, you are mistaken. The passage of a city income tax measure would mean that all persons working in the city would pay either the resident or the nonresident percentage (1% or 0.5%) Other university towns successfully tax university employees - for example, Wayne State University employees pay Detroit income tax. The tax would not apply to the employer (UM) but to the employees (though UM would have to withhold the tax, etc.). This thread got too involved with the UM fire protection costs, which are important. But the greater problem is the city structural budget deficit. This is causing layoffs in police as well as fire, and we are also planning a lot of money for transit enhancements benefiting the UM. We have provided a civic setting for this huge campus and economic engine (see my post <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> about my feelings about the UM) but we are not compensated for the costs and the UM continues to take property off the tax rolls. (Think Pfizer.)


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

A city income tax would still exclude all of the UM employees, as they are a state entity, which a local jurisdiction can not impose requirements upon. Granted, I am sure there are still a number of other people that are employed withing the city, that are not city residents, I do not think it would amount to a huge amount of money. If anything, it would chase more businesses out of the city, into the surrounding townships. I know that if I were a city resident that also worked in the city, I would be very unhappy about being doubly taxed. That might chase residents out of the city.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Viv- When looking at what rights we have under the constitution, looking at the amendment is a great start, but case law is what defines it. Like I said, I can go back and talk to this man again, or get paid to do it, but you are not going to find what powers the law really gives us just by looking at the amendment. For example, fhe first amendment is freedom of speech, we don't have the right to say whatever we want wherever we want, to find out your rights and freedoms under this amendment you have to go through case law. Stuart has gotten the point, which is the U (if they choose not to bargain) would sue us. Additionally, I do not think the mayor or the administration has much of a grasp on constitutional law, and I already have said, may times over, I don't agree with how the mayor and council is handling the situation, so why would I care that current policy makers don't agree???? I know they do not. I am saying they need to change what they think.

Stuart Brown

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Vivienne, Could you please dispense with the subterfuges; UofM would be suing the City of Ann Arbor to continue fire service under Deb's plan---time would be on the city's side in this dispute! I would love to see UofM with its $7 Billion endowment sue the city of Ann Arbor to continue fire service that it does not pay for! UofM would be forced to create their own fire department while the lawsuit proceeds (if they were dumb enough to pursue it) and once they have their own, I doubt they would want to go back to relying on Ann Arbor's FD.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

Sorry, deb, I still didn't read your post carefully enough - I see that you are citing the US Constitution. Here is the tenth amendment in full: &quot;The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.&quot; Again, for the city to sue the UM on the basis of a complicated constitutional argument would not be productive. And Michigan tax law prohibits all kinds of local taxes - and this will not change under Snyder's new budget provisions. The UM can't impose a tax and is very unlikely to impose a fee on its students for fire protection. If I were to &quot;aspire to be in politics&quot;, I would not be proposing a city income tax. It requires a retired politician like me (I served 8 years on the Board of Commissioners and on city commissions and committees before that) to do something so politically unsound as to propose a city income tax. Yes, I ran for council after retiring from the county but that was an act of desperation at the state of our city. Things haven't improved, as we see by this article.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Deb, I assure you that I meant no disrespect. On rereading your post (you are right, I didn't read the initial post carefully), I see that you have investigated the question. One thing that might be on your side in this is the concept of &quot;unfunded mandates&quot; - that seems to be what you are describing. I looked online at the tenth amendment to the state constitution and it does not deal with that. I'll have to do a better search later. Regardless, even if the city could make a case, it is not likely to. The UM would have it hugely outgunned if the city brought a lawsuit. I don't think your strategy is doable. I can't claim that my opinion is more authoritative than yours, but it is definitely the one held by all the current policymakers. (And Mayor Hieftje would be startled to think that I am one of his supporters!)


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

No, we need responsible city managers of all of the funds that they are currently collecting -- I definitely am very tired of hearing from the powers that be that funds can only for this or for that -- when it comes right down to the bottom dollar -- all funds should just be put in a pot and spent according to needs of the citizens of Ann Arbor


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

We do not need a city income tax. The city has a spending problem. There is more than enough revenue to fund the city, If the city got spending under control. This is not a revenue problem. This is a spending problem.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

Vivienne- The authority would be something like the the tenth amendment, I believe it has to do with commandeering the local government and not providing it with funds to do something. It may be a different standard. I had this conversation with the professor, that I mention in the text sometime in October. I will ask him again when I see him, as i submitted this scenario to him verbally, I do not have a written account. Additionally, I would be happy to go back and brush up on constitutional law, if I were to be paid for it. As of right now I have more pressing things to do then write a memo, on a dream the city government will stand up for itself. Either way, I think my sources are superior to; thats what I heard. And no, it is not frustration and anger. It is the result of an education that gave me the ability to analyze, and gain an understanding of the law instead of just taking someone, such as yourself, at their word. That I asked a distinguished scholar about this subject is in my fist post, I cite his opinion for now. Additionally, you have not read the complete post. The issues that you have raise were already refuted in the first series of posts. So I will not answer them again here. Do not posture on here because you aspire to be in politics. Please look at what I have said in that first post. I have not said the solution is simple, you have called for a simple solution in a city income tax. Another simple solution would be to ask the U to implement a $10 city safety tax into every one of its students bills each semester, and give that money to the city. The enrollment of the school is around 40,000, that would generate about $800,000 a year.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

Vivienne, way to carry Hieftje's water! I'm sure hizoner could not have said it better. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will repeat what I have said before on this site; the city of 2000 collected about $55 million in property taxes and had about 120 FTE firefighters but the city of 2010 collects more in real terms at about $80 million but pleads poverty and claims it can only afford about 80 FTE firefighters. Something is rotten in Denmark here and your insistence on running interference for Hieftje's crew in proposing to give more revenue to the same bloated machine is not helpful here. The $28 million (3.5 years worth of taxes) in the Streets Repair fund while Ann Arbor streets crumble demonstrates that Hieftje's administration will not spend the taxpayer's money on the taxpayer's and instead chooses to squirrel it away for whatever pie-in-the-sky plan he has. Deb is right, the city could send Mary Sue a letter saying that fire services will no longer be offered after a certain date and the city looks forward to working with the newly created UofM FD. While we are at it, let UofM have the Stadium Street bridge and all the roads on the UofM campus and stop spending city money on this infrastructure. You fail to point out that Hieftje is employed by UofM along with his wife and would risk no longer being able to afford his new Burns Park home if he got too aggressive in pursuing a PILOT.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Deb, can you cite an authority for your statement that the city has a constitutional right not to provide fire service to the UM? That is not my understanding. Consider also what a policy of not providing fire service to the UM campus would mean. A fire begun on campus could spread to the rest of the city. And if the UM is our crown jewel (which many would say), letting it deteriorate by fire and destruction would be a classical case of &quot;cutting off your nose to spite your face&quot;. Actually, there are negotiations going on even now between the city and the UM (not, I'm not specially privy to them, but I hear little snatches). Negotiating with a brick wall just doesn't work very well. I understand your frustration and anger but sometimes solutions are just not as simple as we want them to be.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

Vivienne, I dont care if the city has worked through the details, or has lobbied to be reimbursed. The truth of the matter, is it is within the cities constitutional powers to no longer provide fire service. If that is what needs to be done to bring the U to the bargaining table, it should be done. The means we have of making them pay for fire service, or for that matter relocation of pipes for the parking deck, is for the city not to provide the fire service, and not move the pipes until they help. Policing and cleaning up after football games is a different type of example, if the city did not clean up, the city would be dirty. If we do not provide fire service, the U does not have fire service. Your argument is basically, we tried before. This argument makes me believe that we need new leaders who will try again, and this time not wilt when confronting the U.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

Deb, unfortunately what seems fair and just and what is in law are not always the same. Believe me, the city has worked through all these details on UM fire protection for decades and has lobbied to be reimbursed. (The state is supposed to reimburse the city at a significant fraction that has rarely been met.) There is a long history also of Ann Arbor officials trying to wheedle the UM into paying for expenses that seem directly related to them. For example, they (UM) pay some but not all expenses related to policing and cleanup after UM football games. They just say no. In many ways it is like negotiating with a foreign power. They may choose to do some things as a graceful gesture but they will not do anything that they choose not to, and we have no means of making them do that.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.

Vivienne, What about my solution above, and we are not obligated about the fire protection, as I have already described above. The state cannot force a certain geographical area to pay for a service that benefits the entire state. This type of protection is covered by the US constitution, not the state. Your correct that the U is not obligated to pay for services, without sufficient monies from the state government or the U, we the city are not obligated to provide them. It is unconstitutional. The national level comparison, would be to tax only the people of Oregon to pay for the federal highway system maintenance. You are wrong in this regard. Again, I believe the city should actually try to bargain with the U, not just on the FD but other projects. For instance the parking deck on fuller road. The city council just approved $1.3 million for relocation of sewer and water lines. Why the city did not try to contract with the U of M for part of these monies? If the U is supposed to pay for 77% of construction costs, how come the city has decided to spring for all the pre-construction costs? If this were a new development, the developer would have to pay for water and sewer hookups. The bottom line is we do not need a city income tax, we need a better leadership, willing to take on, not even a tough stance, but any stance with the U of M


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:21 a.m.

The article states that the police department would have to double it's staffing to reach national standards. Does that computation of manpower include the number of U of M Police Department officers policing the the campus area in the city? If you consider those officers, the actual number of police officers in the city is probably closer to the national average. Unlike EMU where 95 percent of the campus is in one geographic area, U of M properties are spread through the city enabling U of M Police to provide coverage to a big area of Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

And, if they have to double shift to be in accordance with national standards, will the staff be paid overtime or receive com-time -- so where is the savings.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

U of M officers should not even be considered in the equation. They are not AAPD, you pay for basic services for the city and should get them. Heiftjie was elected as mayor of Ann Arbor not U of M .


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

That number is only for residents of a2. And their numbers are for their students and facilities. So A2 is still well below the national average. Uofm doesn't handle any calls in the city unless requested for emergency back up.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

I'm certain those officers with years of police experience and college degrees are looking forward to an &quot;opportunity&quot; to sit on the lifeguard tower at Fuller Pool or drive the Zamboni. Mr. Crawford makes it seem like the city is doing these guys some sort of great service after tossing them out like trash.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.

&quot;Or driving a garbage truck.........&quot; which, I will note, is statistically more dangerous than driving a fire truck.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:08 a.m.

Or driving a garbage truck.........


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

The cuts leave Ann Arbor in a precarious situation: The city would need to more than double staffing levels in police to meet national standards at this point. Meanwhile, the fire department is seeing its ranks decrease from 89 to 82 full-time career firefighters, leaving the city with 0.72 firefighters per 1,000 residents. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the average full-time career fire department in the U.S. has about 1.72 firefighters per 1,000 residents. I can't believe this is happening!!!


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

Yet the AAPD still sits on US-23 and M-14, issuing illegitimate traffic citations. (The citations are written for violating a city ordnance, on a roadway that the city has no jurisdiction over.)


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

I believe that option #1 must at least be discussed, especially with fire department #3 going through intermittent closures. It is a hardline stance, but as a home owner on the westside of Ann Arbor (abbott school area) and having watched my neighbors just endure the tragic loss of their daughter as a result of a fire, I cannot see how the local taxpayers can continue to fund fire protection services, that they are not bound to provide, for a entity with $7,000,000,000+ in its coffers, while leaving its westside constituents with no fire station. When times are better we may once again choose to subsidize the U of M's fire department needs, but for now I think you and the rest of the council should think about the other options available before you choose to put the entire westside of Ann Arbor at risk. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you,

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

deb, how long ago did you send the e-mail to the mayor? Try sending him one from a different address telling him what a splendid job he is doing and see if he responds.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

If the university were to say no, I would hope the city would respond by telling them that fire service protection would no longer be provided to university owned entities without the payment. The AAFD would respond only to protect city and privately owned entities. This is a tough position, and if U of M were to lose a building, the city would be faced with the &quot;how could you be so cruel to standby and watch?&quot; questions. However the city would work to shift blame to a large public university that holds over $7 billion in endowmensts and choose not to help subsidize their fire safety needs with approximently $4 million or whatever the acutual number may be( that 4 million is just a pure hypothetical, I believe last I saw is the U owns 40% of washtenaw county (seems high) and our FD budget is around 11 million, so its basically a guess. However I am quite certain the number would more than make up for the entire projected budget defecit) If the university were to counter with the establishment of their own FD, the city would be able to scale back its FD. This being based on the assumption the two FD's would have some sort of arrangement like the one that takes place between the PD's. Addtionnaly, the jobs lost from the scaleback of the aafd, would most likely be made up for by new hires by the u of m fd At least for large operations, the last option is undoable for the universtiy.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

Ive posted this point before, but I wanted to share an email I wrote the mayor. He never responded Mr. Hieftje, The way I understand the issue, and the constitutional issues that come with it is this; State institutions are paid for by the state, which gets money form taxpayers from throughout the state, to benefit the entire state. It is unconstitutional for a select group of taxpayers (ann arbor taxpayers) to be required to fund a state service or service for that state owned entity in order for the benefit of the entire state. The state can say we are required too, but as of now this would not hold up in a court of law. It is quite simple. ( I am a law school student, and I discussed this issue with a constitutional law scholar a few weeks back. I trust him as he is a Yale Law graduate and was editor of their law journal, he also argued constitutional law issues in D.C.) The implications of the point above are this; we cannot be forced to provide fire protection to the U of M. Simply put the state cannot simply force the local taxpayers to &quot;foot the bill.&quot; It would be as if all roads in Michigan had to come from tax money collected in Wayne county. This leaves the city with a couple options (one of which is ask the legislative for the money, but you have said this dosent work) The next approach is to ask U of M directley for the money. That would give them a few options other then saying yes; they could say no; build their own fire services, or move to a place that would be willing to subsidize their fire service needs.

Fat Bill

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

Deb, the bottom line is that cities are creatures of the state. Charters have to be approved by the state, state law governs how cities operate, and ultimately the State can dissolve a city that is not functioning properly. The State has decided that local services must be provided to state institutions within the city limits. Period. Now, if the locality follows the State-defined process to capture revenue via a local income tax, Ann Arbor would definitely feel some (positive) impact...

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Suppose the state law says the fire departments will be repaid by the state for responses to the universities. Did you run that one by your Prof? And did you advise him the UM provided the AAFD with a building on UM property for station 5? If the state is not upholding that portion of the law, the cities beef is with the state, not the UM. Also do you have the actual costs the city suffers for the responses to the UM? I think you will find it is quite minimal. Perhaps that is why the mayor did not answer your email.

Roy Munson

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

Every bank is now going to need a security guard to stand in the PARKING LOT year round like the Bank of America at Packard and Eisenhower. What a joke.

Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

They should have to pay for their own security. Why should we pay for a bank's security detail? No thanks!

Roy Munson

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

Come on in criminals! We are open for business! Just in time for the expansion of the bus lines aka the Crime Express!!!!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

I didn't realize criminals took the bus to &quot;work&quot;. How do they get to &quot;work&quot; late at night when the buses don't run?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

What is really sad is that City Council and the Mayor have failed to cut back on their and other administration cronies' salaries, cell phones, and other perks while essential service personnel were losing their jobs. and home foreclosures were at an all-time high in An Arbor and Washtenaw County. This is not to mention that they splurged on an $800,000 water fountain.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

And there it is. A typical, predictable response devoid of details or factual/data driven support that displays the popular-in-the-present day politics of bomb throwing. To assume the situation is so one sided and it boils down to the &quot;cronies&quot; cell phone cost is literally mindboggling. unreal.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

If everyone did what they were supposed to (behaved) the need for military and police would be greatly reduced. Sure there'll always be fender benders, traffic management, safety responses among other issues but there'd be less anxiety provoking incidents. Just behave, please for everyones sake.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Andy your post reminds me of an idea I have had for some time that would save money and keep officers on the road. End traffic collision reports by police officers. Police can respond for three reasons only: Issue citation to driver at fault, address injuries or not for med response and clear traffic. Traffic accident reports are prepared by police officers for the benefit of insurance companies. Let the insurance companies respond to collisions to investigate. Always though it a waste of police time to write accident reports.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

Brilliant. I'm sure it will work.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

So glad those corporations got $1.7 billion in tax breaks! Now they'll have to hire private security! See kids, Reganeconomics trickle-down does work!


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Where are you getting this 1.7 billion number from? I seriously doubt that the city is giving up that much in money on tax breaks. I think this might be a number based on the federal government taxes, not local. If so, then you need to remember in the United States there are federal, state, and local governments that each have the power to tax in some way. Confusing them doesn't help further a policy debate.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

What corporations? Several such as Pfizer and General Dynamics (on Pfizer land) have left, taking their tax money with them. This land is now UM land and nontaxable. This budget of laying off police officers is not about Ronald Reagan, but about a city governed by individuals who fund pet projects at the expense of basic city functions such as police, fire, and roads.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:39 p.m.

Marcus... which Corporations in Ann Arbor are you speaking of exactly ?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

I still will be able to go to Ann Arbor to look at the $ 800,000 urinal won't I ?

Mike K

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

Where is this $800,000 masterpiece?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

You could probably pee in it and not get arrested because there are not enough police officers around to slap on the handcuffs.