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Posted on Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council approves 2013-14 budget without increase in police staffing

By Ryan J. Stanton

Mayor John Hieftje and his colleagues on the Ann Arbor City Council blocked an attempt early Tuesday morning to add three police officer positions to the city's budget.

The outcome of the 6-5 split vote — which came toward the end of a nearly seven-hour meeting — left Council Member Jane Lumm, who sponsored the proposal, disappointed.

A little while later, the council voted 10-1 to give final approval to the city's 2013-14 budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Lumm cast the lone dissenting vote.

Lumm reminded her peers on council they listed public safety as a top priority heading into this year's budget process. She said she didn't see that reflected in the budget.

"The (police) chief has identified the path forward — proactive rather than reactive policing," Lumm told her colleagues. "But that needs funding and staffing that we consciously decided tonight not to provide for. Because of that, I'm sorry, I can't support this budget."


The Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-1 early Tuesday morning to approve a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Lumm wanted to increase staffing in the Ann Arbor Police Department from 146 to 149 full-time employees, a $270,000 expense that she proposed funding by an equal reduction in the 15th District Court budget. Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft testified before council that a hit that large to his budget could result in laying off three of six probation officers.

Hieftje said he wished the city had room in the $83 million general fund budget for more police officers, but potentially laying off probation officers concerned him.

Five council members sided with Hieftje and decided not to support Lumm's amendment: Sabra Briere, Sally Hart Petersen, Christopher Taylor, Margie Teall and Chuck Warpehoski.

Four council members sided with Lumm and pushed for higher prioritization of public safety: Sumi Kailasapathy, Stephen Kunselman, Marcia Higgins and Mike Anglin.

"I think it's important that we do get more officers out on the beat," said Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, adding crime might be down in Ann Arbor but neighborhoods don't feel any safer.

Hieftje brought Police Chief John Seto to the podium to help make the case that crime is going down in Ann Arbor and the city remains one of the safest communities around.

Hieftje said he meets regularly with the police chief to talk about crime trends and he's impressed with the work the department is doing. When there was an uptick in breaking and enterings last year, he said, the department did a spectacular job of making arrests.

"I learn about the great work that is done by the department every day, and I think that's very, very important to acknowledge," he said, adding there's "good momentum" around safety services in Ann Arbor with increased collaboration with surrounding jurisdictions.


Jane Lumm

Instead of adding officer positions using general fund dollars, Hieftje said he's going to try to get the Downtown Development Authority to help fund downtown beat cops using DDA resources.

He said there have been talks of adding two downtown beat cops and another community standards officer that would be responsible for patrolling parks in the downtown, including Liberty Plaza.

"I'm willing to take this back to the DDA," he said.

Petersen said she voted down Lumm's amendment for new police because she heard the mayor say the DDA has funding for three officers in its discretionary budget.

The council found itself divided on another proposal from Lumm to restore fall leaf pickup and holiday tree pickup services.

The 7-4 vote against Lumm's amendment to restore those services came after more than an hour of debate. Lumm had support from Kailasapathy, Anglin and Petersen for the proposal, which involved a one-time cost of $395,000 and recurring annual expenses of $311,000.

As of a few years ago, the city no longer does bulk pickup of loose leaves that are raked into the street. Ann Arborites are encouraged to mulch their leaves, set paper bags and compost carts with leaves at the curb for weekly pickup, or take advantage of bulk leaf drop-off locations.

Hieftje said he has no desire of going back to the old system. He said the city would find leaves frozen in the street late in the year, and scraping them proved hard on the city's equipment and on the streets. Additionally, he said, it clogged storm drains, blocked bike lanes and was costly.

Lumm argued fall leaf pickup is a basic service that should be provided to taxpayers, particularly given that they pay more than $11 million annually through the city's solid waste millage.

The council voted 7-4 to approve another budget amendment that eliminates $326,464 in public art expenditures. That's all of the anticipated funding for public art with the exception of $14,000 in investment income that still needs to be budgeted.

The four council members who voted against the removal of public art dollars were Hieftje, Taylor, Teall and Warpehoski.

Late in the meeting, the council voted 9-2 against an amendment supported by Kailasapathy and Lumm to direct the city administrator to plan on reducing the city attorney's office staff by one position when Senior Assistant City Attorney Bob West retires in the next year.

Kailasapathy and Lumm wanted to use part of the savings to increase the police department's budget by $90,000, but a majority of council members questioned leaving West's position unfilled.

City Attorney Stephen Postema said it's going to be hard to replace West, who prosecutes civil infractions and misdemeanors for the city, helps train and counsel police officers, and represents the city in major litigation, including defense of police officers.

The council unanimously supported a number of other budget amendments, including one to spend $75,000 on a study of sidewalk gaps, another to restore $46,899 in human services funding (back to $1,244,629), another to put $10,000 toward the Washtenaw Health Initiative for the second year, and another to put $4,500 toward a food program at Miller Manor, a public housing site.


John Hieftje

The council also voted 10-1 in favor of a one-time use of general fund cash reserves to make a $100,000 allocation for affordable housing. Lumm voted against it.

The city's finance staff was still calculating the final budget numbers early Tuesday morning following changes made by council, but it's still a roughly $83 million general fund budget. Counting all of the various funds the city manages, the total city budget amounts to more than $346 million.

The council didn't take any action to increase funding for alternative transportation as requested by the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition prior to the meeting.

The council did have a healthy debate about the DDA's budget, though. The DDA's budget is one component of the larger city budget.

Council members were divided over what to do with more than $500,000 in additional DDA tax revenues that weren't projected earlier this year. Kunselman, Lumm and Kailasapathy proposed putting all of it into the DDA's housing fund to support affordable housing.

Hieftje and Teall proposed putting $100,000 into the DDA's housing fund and using the rest to help pay for new street light poles on Main Street and some economic development activities, including studies in collaboration with Ann Arbor SPARK.

After more than an hour of debate, Hieftje and Teall, whose proposal aligned with the DDA's intent for the funds, accused others on council of trying to micromanage the DDA.

Just before midnight, Hieftje proposed a compromise to provide guidance to the DDA to use $300,000 for affordable housing and also come up with $300,000 for new light poles on Main Street.

He said that might leave as much as $200,000 coming from another source — possibly the city's general fund — to pay for the remainder of the cost of the light poles. The compromise Hieftje put forward passed in a 10-1 vote with Taylor voting against it.

The council gave tentative approval to new utility rates that will provide revenue increases of 3.55 percent in water, 4.25 percent in sewer and 4 percent in stormwater.

The impact on the average single-family customer is estimated at $20.66 per year, a net increase of 3.6 percent if consumption is unchanged from last year.

That's expected to increase revenues in the water, sewer and stormwater funds by $739,244, $955,531 and $233,811, respectively.

The increases await final approval June 3.

Kunselman pushed through changes Monday night to get the permit fee for bonfires in the city reduced from $150 to $50, and the permit fee for residential prescription burns reduced from $180 to $50. He argued the fees were too high and prohibited citizens from taking out permits.

With the fees reduced starting July 1, he's hoping more citizens will actually take out permits from now on so the fire department knows about any bonfires or burns happening.

"Politics is the art of compromise and we saw a lot of compromise tonight," Kunselman said, summing up his thoughts toward the end of the meeting. "We saw a lot of debate. We saw a lot of effort on everyone's part to bring things forward that were important to them.

"I agree we need more efforts and resources toward public safety," he added, but I do see that we have a 4-FTE increase in our fire services. I do see that we're not talking about closing our fire stations. … We're not cutting. We're not going down. We're slowly going up."

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 email newsletters.



Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

Regarding water and sewer fees, we have records of costs going back 20 years. In 1992 water and sewer fees were $270 (round numbers). By 1999 the cost was $290 - a modest increse. The real escalation in fees came starting in 2006 when charges went from $320 to $420 in 2008, then $460 in 2011. Data for 2012 ($622) is misleading, since it was a very dry summer and it was necessary to water grass and trees frequently. There was no change in number of house occupants during this time, so clearly fees have been on a quite steady upward trajectory. Unfortunately we do not have accurate records of units used. I would think that it is past time for the council to require clear and convincing justification for these increases. A passing reference to an increase and it's automatic approval is not sufficient.

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

It does seem like there are more people who panhandle in A2 than some other places but it has always been that way going back 30-40 years, so far as I know. Then too, there are students walking around with a lot of money in their pocket and they don't mind sharing. I don't think the city could make panhandling illegal on their own. Its legal. I don't agree that the city needs more police.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

"He said there have been talks of adding two downtown beat cops and another community standards officer that would be responsible for patrolling parks in the downtown, including Liberty Plaza." The city created the Liberty Plaza problem with its coddling of the homeless populations, allowing them to aggressively panhandle all over the city. AA has become a magnet for homeless from surrounding communities, as well as the "professional panhandlers" who are not homeless. These individuals in addition to drug dealers populate places like Liberty Plaza making it an unsafe city space. If the city cracked down on these activities to start with, then they wouldn't be congregating in Liberty Plaza. The city needs to add police positions, but they also need to make panhandling illegal and start cracking down on drug dealing in all public spaces and parks.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Aplolgies to Chief Seto for getting sucked into the mayor's show.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

Why, for having to provide actual facts for Council to consider? Silly.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

The police are arresting the graffiti bums almost weekly but the judges are too soft on them! There are two or three teens who have done most of the damage and the police have caught them. Good thing we will still have probation officers to keep track of them.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

I totally agree with Craig. The judges are far too soft on the graffiti bums. Trade in the probation officers for new cops on the beat.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Really, arresting them weekly, the reports in this paper have only indicated two arrests, that would be what, two weeks of police work? And the probation officers are doing a fine job monitoring the GPS collars, something basic software could just as easily accomplish. When the GPS is located outside a specific area, send one of the proposed three new police officers to pick up the parolee.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

$270,000 only gets you 3 full time employees? So new cops start at $90k a year? Maybe that's why we can't afford more police....


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Training is a fixed cost, and not an ongoing one. It shouldn't add to a yearly cost, but be a one time input. And Union mandated benefits and retirement cost? Yeah, that's the problem. If 50% of the cost is actually salary (which I hardly believe) then you're doing something wrong if benefits and additional costs equal it.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

M-Wolverine - Try this, in the cost of a police officer is training, benefits and retirement costs (per the union contract), uniforms and equipment, insurance, and finally salary. I suspect that about 50% of the cost is actually salary. Remember if you have more officers and officers mostly patrol in cars, then in that cost of equipment is a portion of the vehicle cost, fuel, tires, and maintenance on that vehicle. The same goes, though at a lower cost for bicycles. Be thankful that an officer in Ann Arbor does not cost what one costs the townships from the Sheriff's department.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

How about that graffitti problem, Mayor Highrise?

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Look down two comments.

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

From what I read in the Det. News, the rest of the cities are still cutting their budgets. Ann Arbor has come around the bend already. The multiple awards the city wins for quality of life, the lowest unemployment in the state, etc. all add up, this is a great place to live. I appreciate the work of the council to keep the city at the top.

Steve Bean

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Craig, city government is composed of city council and city staff, led by the administrator. Your comment lumps them together. I think Veracity's initial question was just about council.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

CORRECTION: I my previous note I errantly included Arbor Hills among private businesses receiving tax dollars from the DDA. Arbor Hills is outside the jurisdiction of the DDA so it is city council that will be deferring annual TIF payments for fifteen years.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Craig Stolefield - The Barracuda situation is a little more complicated. Its prior residence was in a First Martin building on Depot street across from Wheeler park. When Barracuda grew quickly and anticipated continued growth it looked for 100,000 square feet rental preferably downtown. At about that time space opened up at Maynard and Liberty which Barracuda jumped at when financial inducements were thrown its way including reserved parking in the library lot for reduced monthly rates. This arrangement did save Barracuda or each of its employees about $100 per month in parking fees. Unfortunately, what Barracuda gained was a loss for the DDA which must pay to service the bonds sold in order to pay for construction of the subterranean parking structure. In fact it is the annual $3.1 million library lot liability that has consumed much of the DDA's TIF monies and generates deficit spending each year. Barracuda is one of an increasing number of private businesses in Ann Arbor that the DDA has singled out for receipt of tax payers' money (Yours too!). Zingerman's, Village Green, 618 South Main and Arbor Hills shopping center have or will be benefiting similarly from the DDA's largesse.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

Right here on the head of Barracuda said something along the lines of "without the new parking structure we would not have been able to move downtown." If you work downtown this is apparent. Not everyone is going to ride a bike or the bus. I have heard this from many tech workers.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

The new parking structure was key? where do you come up with that assertion?

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Good question but they are in control of or oversee a lot of things, infrastructure (two nice big bridge projects in the last few years), great parks, safe city, water and sewer, DDA, Spark to bring in new business, etc... Looks like the city government maintains and improves the platform for everything else. The new parking structure was the key to the new tech campus downtown leading to more jobs, low unemployment, etc. The UM contributes a lot but they don't pay taxes and that goes a long way to offset their contribution. The city did a good job of keeping up through the recession without raising taxes despite the UM taking away so many tax dollars when they took over Pfizer. So, yea, I think the city gov. is responsible for a lot of the good things here.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

Isn't it difficult to gauge the exact role that City Council plays in Ann Arbor's success?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

It is fiduciary irresponsibility for City Council to condone use of revenue by the DDA for discretionary items such as support of affordable housing ($300,000) when additional deficit budgets continue to be generated. The DDA must balance its budget by using reserve funds which are being rapidly depleted. The draft DDA budgets for 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 have many line item entries that are difficult to understand and therefore to justify. For instance, "salaries" and "fringe benefits" are listed for both TIF and for Parking, and are similar producing a doubling of these expenses. Other confusing expense entries for FY 2013/2014 include: Parking Expenses City Payments ....................... $3,237,709 (What for?) Interfund Transfer ................... $2,618,025 (Why?) All Transportation .................... $ 600,000 (go!pass for select individuals) 53140 Advertising .................... $ 10,300 (For what: the Williams Street Plan?) 53150 Conf & Training .............. $ 38,625 (justification?) 53170 Miscellaneous ................ $ 15,450 (itemize) 53180 Gov't Functions ............. $ 6,953 (Which ones?) 53200 Bank Charges ................ $ 15,450 (Why any fees? Overdrawn?) 54100 Attorney fees/legal ......... $ 25,750 (Isn't Stephen Postema available?) 54200 Architect/Engineer ......... $ 25,750 (For what?) 54300 Consulting ...................... $108,150 (For what?) 58100 Discretionary Transfer ..... $4,400,000 (Why?) Capital Outlay Expense .............. $238,840 (For what?) These budgetary entrees deserve explanation which the DDA should provide. These expenditures are our tax dollars and should be put to work for all of us. Discretionary ............................ $100,000 (For affordable housing) Other Capital Construction ......... $300,000 (Where?)


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

If an article/issue interests or concerns me, and as I skim through comments, I always stop to read and appreciate Veracity's factual contributions and clarifications. I often learn more than I get from the article itself. As to the "down" votes, I see from observation and experience that some readers find providing even the simplest of actual facts objectionable - or maybe too scary? Trolls abound.

Kai Petainen

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

I don't understand why Veracity's comment was voted down? It's just a listing of the expenses and asking for clarification on the matters. If things are good, it should be just a simple explanation... this is used for this... this is used for this... etc. Perhaps, some voted down on it, as this is something that 'shouldn't even be talked about'.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Bank Charges: At most banks, business accounts have a different fee structure than personal accounts. For example, there's usually a per-item charge for deposits, or perhaps a flat rate for up to X number of items deposited at once. I've no idea how many checks the DDA receives from anyone that they have to send to the bank for deposit, but that's just one example I thought of. I do agree with you, though... one often wonders what some of these vague budget items actually are.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Consulting, a classic.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

The City Council and Mayor should be thanked for their ongoing support for human services and affordable housing. Even during the most difficult days of the recession, they maintained this commitment and provided funds to assit those in our community who are the most vulnerable. With the actions they took last night, to reinstate general fund dollars into the affordable housing trust fund and level fund human services funding they show that there is a commitment to helping keep Ann Arbor the diverse community that we all love. Thanks to all!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Affordable housing is one of the worse intrusions of government into the free market. If you can't afford to live in a place, find somewhere else to live. No one pays me to live where I do, my wife and I both work two jobs and forgo many things we would like to do in order to have the lifestyle we enjoy.

Patricia Lesko

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Julie, human Services funds have been used over and over by Council members as political pin money. Here's how they work this scam. First, the City Administrator is instructed to (or on his own initiative) cuts Human Service funds form the budget. Then, you come and beg before Council. "Please restore these funds. They're so very important." Then, Council members worried about their re-election RESTORE the funding, usually at the previous year's level. It's a really sick political game used by these people to gain liberal cred in election years. Julie, I saw you speak before Council and your comments were as thoughtful as they were instructional (100 units of affordable housing lost STILL not replaced). I'm so sorry you and your colleagues are ill used this way every year so Council members, like Sabra Briere and Marcia Higgins, can sponsor resolutions to restore your funding. By the way, restoring funding is actually making sure that the funding levels remain frozen. You know who explained this game to me? Sabra, in 2009.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Why does the city continue to fund studies to fix sidewalks? No to increasing the police budget, yes to sidewalk studies. Is this not laughable? I take a walk every night with my wife, give me $7,500 and I'll conduct a study for you at 10% the cost.

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

Mr. Stanton has clarified it many times in this publication. The money that used to go to fund art (they stopped funding it last fall) came from non-general fund sources. That money can't be used to fund cops or fire fighters for that matter. Its the law. If you don't like the (now ended) program you should argue against taking 1% out of some street or sewer projects instead of spending it on roads and sewage. But then I suppose the facts don't matter to most here.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

You can neg my comment, but I'm still waiting for a link with the "Facts."


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

I'd still like to hear a legal opinion on the 1% for art. Even if it isn't illegal, it's still underhanded.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Link to where the program was ended? You aren't talking about the vote that decided not to fund it in a new way, are you?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

I cannot believe they haven't discussed the dioxin and the Pall corporations apparent attempt to slip out of town..


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

More to the point the City has no authority, despite what they would like to think, to enforce environmental statutes in the State; for that matter neither does the DNR. That responsibility falls to the DEQ, and regardless of whether or not Pall has a physical presence here they are still the liable party and have the obligation to continue cleanup efforts per their agreement with the State.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Maybe it's because Pall is not in the city and the DNR and courts have control and won't let the city have any say over the underground pollution.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.



Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

$75 K to study sidewalk cracks....that must treally be hard ..lets see. 1, 2, 3, 4,...


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

For $50 grand I will spend 1 week reviewing the existing information on the gaps, one week creating a database that includes all existing sidewalk surveys and already identified gaps, four months methodically walking every inch of sidewalk in the city, noting the gaps and entering comments in the database, and two weeks working with staff preparing a report and a suggested list of the priority order of build, repair, replace. There, I just saved the city $25K, now they can build that missing 400 feet along Barton near the entrance to Bandameer park.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

TOTALLY AGREE!!!! What a waste of money.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I think that the sidewalk gaps referred to is where there are no sidewalks at all.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

To those of you complaining about police funding- have you formed or joined a Neighborhood Watch with your neighbors?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Happy Birthday Arboriginal! Way to cover that waterfront!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

I cover the waterfront honey.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Ryan must have missed it but both Taylor and Hieftje said they would support eliminating the one percent for art when it comes back up at the next meeting. Last nights vote didn't do it, council needs to vote again anyway. It was apparent watching the meeting that the sources of funding for the police additions were going to hurt safety services more than adding the cops would have helped. There are only 6 probation officers, take away 3 or 4 and you have to wonder who would be keeping track of the people who are out on the streets instead of behind bars.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

saw a cop hiding behind bushes on main st across from pioneer high--hoping to nail someone coming down the hill--we need more of this?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

@Usual Suspects Isn't part of the problem that speed limits are set purposefully low on down hills so you can't even coast down them below the speed limit? Try going down Main North without your foot on the brake and do their set limits. I've tried, it's impossible. And ruining your brakes by riding them down hills is not a good alternative for limits that don't meet the state mandates.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Dogface, it's a VERY sad commentary on life in America when we have cities like Detroit who have an underfunded police force and are usually unable to handle the crime, yet we have cities like Ann Arbor who have so many cops running around, that they are able to park behind bushes or near stop signs JUST IN CASE somebody commits a crime. In Detroit it might take 24 hours for the police to respond to a call about a prowler or a B&E, because the limited number of police are too busy working on other, more pressing issues. In Ann Arbor we have police with nothing else to do but wander around looking for crimes in progress. If you have cops sitting in a car watching a traffic light, then that's one or two beat patrols that are being ignored.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

U breaking da law..U gonna get a ticket. It's a fact Jack.

Usual Suspect

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

No, we don't need more of it, so stop speeding down hills.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Yes, if your house is getting broken into, I hope you can make it to one of the speed traps fast.

Kai Petainen

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Question Did anyone at council talk about the big carcinogenic elephant in the room? What I mean is... did anyone talk about the layoffs at Pall and the dioxane issue? Or, did they just ignore it?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

The issue is discussed in the new article which i site above.

Linda Peck

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Jane Lumm is disappointed, and I am also disappointed.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Another take on the meeting - worth reading:

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Right On Ordmad! But a hat may not be enough, a tin foil helmet!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

It's a great read, though it should come with a complimentary tinfoil hat.

Forward Progress

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I cannot believe that Lumm and others believe that laying off 3 probation officers is a good tradeoff for hiring three more police officers. The women just does not get it. If you hire more police, the courts become busier with a lack of personnel to take care of things. The special programs our court is known for will go away. Lumm is only interested in line items on paper and not in the reality of the consequences of her decisions. For every action there is a reaction. This action causes the exact opposite of increasing a safer city. She likes to say that she is listening to what the police chief wants but is she listening to what the courts NEED. Lumm doesn't even understand that politics is compromise...she voted no on the budget! She represents the values of the GOP in Washington DC, not the values of Ann Arbor residents. I am truly dismayed by the discussion last night.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

I'll take the three probation officers and a hardcore judge to boot. It doesn't matter how many cops you have, if you don't have enough people to manage the prisons, the parolees, and the probationaries. Meanwhile, you have to listen to a bunch of people parroting their radio talk show God's screaming that their taxes should be cut.

Forward Progress

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

@Kai Petainen - Not sexist at all, it is the way I write. If she was a he, I would have said "the guy just doesn't get it." I am surprised you didn't pick out my other two typos in my post. Early morning commenting creates typos. When people try to change the issue to some other irrelevant point it usually means the message in the original comment has a valid point. Didn't like what I had to say, huh?

Kai Petainen

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

"The women just does not get it." I'm always amazed when I hear 'The woman' or 'The women' on these boards. I hardly ever hear, 'The men', or 'The man' on these boards. Seems to me... a bit sexist.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Ryan Stanton, Regarding this, "The council gave tentative approval to new utility rates that will provide revenue increases of 3.55 percent in water, 4.25 percent in sewer and 4 percent in stormwater. The impact on the average single-family customer is estimated at $20.66 per year, a net increase of 3.6 percent if consumption is unchanged from last year." Could you please look into how many years these water/sewer/stormwater rates have been increasing? It seems this has happened every year for the past several years. If true, a 3.6% each year is quite costly. The City of Ann Arbor 's "Water Rates & Charges" only lists the current year's rates, so it's difficult to know what the rates were last year and the year before, etc. I understand that Ann Arbor has very old infrasctructure (water mains) that keep breaking, but is there a plan to replace these pipes?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Just about every city everywhere has decaying infrastructure which creates high maintenance costs and eventually requires replacement with an entirely new system, an even more expensive cost. Governing becomes difficult when elected officials are faced with problems like this and have to listen to an out of control mob screaming that they want their taxes cut.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

If you followed the meeting last night you would know that Ann Arbors rates are going up slower than other cities and they are replacing the pipes. They also have the biggest project in the history of city underway, a whole new sewage treatment plant!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Thank god the majority of our elected officials (unlike the majority of folks on the comments section of this website) pay attention to the facts: crime is near record lows with the current staffing of the P.D. as augmented by the University's P.D. Enough said.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

The PD has been arresting the graffiti vandals left and right but the judges are too soft! On the other hand a city that has time to track down these teenagers must be in pretty good shape with the number of police.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Graffiti is crime last I checked, and its all over town and getting worse.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

@ Brad: Art money isn't gone yet, but I'm happy to see it reduced some. That said, the number of folks glowing about the recent (and relatively inexpensive) public art installations downtown is through the roof. To my mind it's a wonderful and appropriately priced endeavor (unlike the dreaded fountain).


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Is crime down, or has the method of reporting crime down? Detroit has reduced the number of homicides by classifying many murders as "justified homicides". Watch out for the tricksters, they are everywhere!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

So since you are back here speaking for this "majority" you like to talk about, how do they feel about the art money going away? FYI, your "majority of elected officials" is a razor-thin 6-5 almost every time. Have you fun while you can.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Clearly one of the safest cities of its size. But you can also check the crime literature, having more cops does not reduce crime. Other factors do, like having enough probation officers.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Which City Council member are you related to?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

If you give AAPD more money for more officers, then they'll spend it sitting in cars waiting for somebody to run a stop sign, they won't use the money for more "beat" patrols. History is clear about this.

Usual Suspect

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

I can think of a very simple and effective way to prevent any money from being collected through traffic tickets: stop breaking the law.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

@Gale Link? @nowayjose That's well and good...but where is the $90k per officer going? To a beat cop who is going to sit in a car all day waiting for someone to pass going 10 mph too fast, or a detective investigating real crime? I know which seems worth that much money.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Sonnydog, last time I checked detectives who investigate crimes like that don't write tickets. Name me one city where 100% of the crimes are all solved. You can pick a few crimes and say police only write traffic tickets.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

The so called "serial" rapist has long been thought to have left town. Read it in the actual news here many times. T


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

"I can't think of a more dangerous activity." Really? How is the investigation in to the serial rapist going?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

What's wrong with ticketing people running stop signs? I can't think of a more dangerous activity.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

Didn't we raise water/sewer rates within the last few years? The water/sewer fund had a largish balance already, and the reason given was to start piling up money, in advance, to pay for the re-build of the treatment plant. Is that still the reason for this new increase? Once the plant is done, will these rates go back down?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

@gale logan - I don't really believe that their rates are going up slower than other communities of comparable size. Every time I turn around the rates are going up. If you are citing figures provided by the people who are raising the rates, I would have to say that is like asking the tobacco industry for figures on cancer rates caused by the use of tobacco.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Its the biggest project the city has ever built. If you watched the meeting you would know that the city's rates are going up slower than other towns. I think they are getting ready to do the water plant next.

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

lol lol rotf lol that's a good one


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Do we still have a Public Art Administrator? Hee Haw!


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

What type of art will go on the monorail? Happy Birthday!!!

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

The art commission has been around for 20 years. It started long before they funded the program.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : noon

Yes we do and, furthermore, the Art Commission could direct developers to include artwork in their construction. Whether the Art Commission will have the power to impose specific art projects on developers or just approve any developer's art plans is unclear. The mayor will still appoint members of the Art Commission without having to meet any guidelines such as experience with art!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Alright... more studies! $75K to "study" the sidewalk gaps when one of the most dangerous gaps in the city, identified by a petition of Ward 1 residents, could be filled for a third of that cost. That's where your money goes, folks.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I understand that there are many places with missing sidewalks, and sidewalk gaps, but there are just a handful of them that are considered dangerous, and have been brought to the city's attention by neighborhood action and petition, when attempts to work via representation failed. One of the worst could be surveyed and done for less than the amount to study the whole. What I don't understand is why there are monies that can be spent on some things but not others. How can money be available for a study, but not for the actual materials and labor?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Agreed. More stormwater studies going on now as well, although I recall we've had several of those already. It might be enlightening to get a list of all the studies done in the last 10 years and their cost, including consultant fees. Also helpful would be the actions taken on each study's result. Also helpful would be whether those actions taken based on the results of the study were final, helpful actions that resolve the original issue that caused the study, resulting in no more issue requiring future study. I get the impression that cities and towns are quite the bread and butter of the "study" and "consulting" industry.

Elijah Shalis

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

We don't need anymore traffic ticket writers.

Usual Suspect

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

Drive like an adult (i.e, obey the traffic laws) and you will have no problems.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

Get over it. Part of their job is to enforce traffic laws. Try obeying traffic laws like I do and you won't have anything to worry about.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Try observing the traffic laws.

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

These days that's seems to be all they do....there's more $$$$$$ in it


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.



Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

So the Mayor voted against increasing police staffing, but voted for retaining the public art funding. That is, he values public art more than public safety. Remember that one come election time.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

Steve: I think the dollars the DDA sends back to the city are from the parking fund and they do go in the city general fund for police and fire. Whereas the dollars that used to go to art were from the water & sewer & streets funds so they could not be spent in the general fund. I don't think that is a council rule but something from the state. I remember they stopped collecting the one percent last year.

Steve Hendel

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Gale, they are completely different pots of money only because Council has ordained it so; and, as we have seen with the handling of the DDA budget, which is regularly pillaged for the benefit of the General Fund-where there's a will, there's a way.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Silly. Completely different pots of money, they don't ever mix. But if you followed the meeting, they have to vote on art again at the next meeting, last nights vote was for show. He said he would vote to cut the 1% then.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:52 a.m.

Thank goodness some sense rears its beautiful head on this art thing. Is the Public Art Commission paid or are they volunteers? It appears they're looking to add yet more staff members. I think someone needs to ask whether or not all this affordable housing money is worth it. Is this really paying off in some way in terms of public good? It has the potential to be an enormous and unending drain, a VERY easy way to spread money around with little oversight. I recall a pretty large recent expenditure to maintain some affordable housing. So we pay to build it, continuously pay to house people in it, then pay to renovate/repair it. Does it ever end? Is it worth it? Are there too many people/organizations involved?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

The investment in affordable housing has been proven time and again to be the best investment possible for ending homelessness. While it is true that we have to develop the housing and maintain it, the City does not pay the rents. Through numerous studies across the country, we have seen that it is 6 times less expensive to house people and support them in their housing than it is to maintain their homelessness, pay for shelters and all the subsequent community costs associated with homelessness such as medical costs at ER visits, psychiatric inpatient visits, law enforcement costs, jail, etc. For more information about this, please go to the Corporation for Supportive Housing or the Washtenaw Housing Alliance website:

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Art is not in the general fund. It is not the same money as police and fire, etc. The two can't legally cross over.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

Glad to see that the art fund has been reduced. Totally sadden that funds were not made available to the police department to bring the staffing up to what it should be. And, extremely disgusted that DDA was not cut. Just wondering, it does not seem as though crime is down in Ann Arbor what with all the reporting of assaults, robberies, and break in plus much more.

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

Reading the day to day crime reports here is worthless if you are trying to understand what is happening overall. The police chief put the statistics out a few months ago and it was all good over the long term. The A2 Observer has been running a long series of articles and again, crime keeps going down.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:27 p.m. do realize they break both state and federal law when it comes to their marijuana policies don't you ? I'm not making a pro or anti marijuana statement I'm just saying they are selective on which laws they choose to obey

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

The money that goes to fund art could not legally go to fund the police. They would be breaking state law.