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Posted on Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:05 a.m.

Ann Arbor mayor proposes 3 percent pay cut for all city employees

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje proposed an across-the-board 3 percent pay cut for all city employees at Monday night's City Council meeting and asked the city's labor unions to step up to the plate and agree to those terms.

Hieftje said the salary reductions would extend to everyone in city hall, including the mayor and council.


Mayor John Hieftje made an attempt to reach out to the city's labor unions on Monday, asking for help confronting the city's staggering budget deficit.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I would like our staff to take it out to all of our unions and to all of our people here at the city," Hieftje said, adding it would yield a savings of $875,000 in the city's general fund next year and $1.5 million total in all city funds.

"The county was successful with some of their bargaining units in making this work, but it was easier I think for them because they had a 3 percent raise built into those contracts," Hieftje said. "Because we don't have that increase built into our contracts, for the most part, this would be a decrease. But I think the idea is certainly well worth exploring, and this would help us a great deal."

The City Council gave no indication to City Administrator Roger Fraser on Monday that he should hold back on laying off 14 firefighters as the city looks to confront a mid-year budget deficit of more than $3 million. Fraser plans to send out pink slips this week, pushing up the previously scheduled firefighter layoffs by six months to save an extra $400,000 in this year's budget.

Ann Arbor officials are working to trim the city's budget by 30 percent over three years in light of a new economic forecast released at Saturday's City Council retreat. Hieftje said Ann Arbor finds itself in the same boat as a lot of cities across Michigan.

"Grand Rapids is looking at 150 layoffs, including police and fire on Jan. 1," he said. "In Lansing, they have a $3 million budget deficit in the mid-year very similar to what Ann Arbor faces - they're looking at laying off 14 police officers. And the city of Troy, they have just put a millage on the ballot, and leaders there are saying that they have contemplated laying off a third of the work force if the millage doesn't pass."

Hieftje said Ann Arbor has been making cuts for the last eight years. To this point, it has managed to do so without noticeable changes to service levels, he said, noting it's going to be hard to make further cuts without it being painful.


Interim Fire Chief Greg Hollingsworth talks with Police Chief Barnett Jones at the start of Monday's City Council meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Fraser and Hieftje addressed the potential changes to fire services after the layoffs are enacted. They said the plan is to still have an initial response of four personnel on the scene of a fire in the same time they currently arrive.

"The plan will continue to be that we will abide by the national standards, which say that if we have a fire emergency involving somebody possibly trapped in a building, that none of our people will go into a building unless there are two people to go in and two people on the outside," Fraser said.

"It can't be avoided that we're going to have potentially longer times to get to a scene with all the people involved if there are fewer trucks and people available to make those assignments," Fraser added.

City officials have been in talks with Huron Valley Ambulance about changes to dispatch operations to better screen calls and reduce the redundancy of having both the fire department and HVA responding to the scene of a medical emergency. The fire department handled 5,981 dispatched calls last year, 250 of which were fire-related. The bulk of the rest were emergency medical calls.

"The fact is that we continue to be deployed primarily for emergency responses to medical emergencies and traffic accidents and that kind of thing," Fraser said. "And yet we're still geared to maintain our primary purpose, which is to put out fires and respond to those kinds of calls."

Hieftje addressed criticism that the city is going through with constructing a new police-courts building while talking about cutting back police and fire services.

"As many of you realize, the city lease at the county courthouse was ending and the city needed to relocate their courts as of 2011, and we are on schedule," he said. "I'm told that our building project for the police-courts building is on budget and on time because we need to be out of the county courthouse by the end of 2010."

Hieftje said the total impact on the city's budget from having the new addition to city hall will be about $275,000 a year, which he called a "very small sum in light of our total general fund and one that we've anticipated all along."

Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward, assured the large crowd of residents at Monday's meeting - which included several firefighters - that council members will be looking at every part of the budget for cuts.

"I think we're going to keep staff busy over the next few months as they develop their budget scenarios," he said. "And I'd just like to reassure the citizens of Ann Arbor that we're taking this extraordinarily seriously, and that we want to do what's best not only for our long-term fiscal sustainability but also to ensure that service levels are maintained as much as possible."

Hieftje said the city's predictions indicate it's only going to get worse going into next year with further cuts anticipated at the state level.

"Everything that I'm hearing from our consultant in Lansing is that next year is going to be the worst year in the state budget," he said. "Because for the past two years, they've had stimulus money to plug directly into the state budget. They will not have that in coming years and it is really going to hit the fan in our next budget year."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 12:47 p.m.

Granted 3 percent is not that much. but why is it the working class always seems to have to take the hit for others. Seems to me there are still plenty of other items they could cut a bit before asking employees to take a hit. I know there are plenty of anti-union opinions out there but this really is not about unions. It is about better management in some areas they have several tiers of management why is that. Those saying everyone should be on a defined contribution plan why dont you go ask those retirees now that had them vs defined benefit how they are doing finincially. The 401k or equivelant was never set up to be a pension plan. It was set up to be a tax sheltered savings plan for those that could afford to put 5 or 10k a year into them in addition to there defined benefit. But some how coorporate america convinced all of us that is is a pension plan that you dont need a defined benefit. Not saying I have the answer but the middle class is always getting hit and sooner or later we need to say enough if you ask me I think we need organized labor now more than ever. Im sure I will get some nice responses. But again it is only my opinion and we all know how much that is worth.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 12:37 p.m.

@racerx I believe you're thinking of the previous CFO. Tom Crawford came from Ford. You can read more about him on the city's Web site:

The Watchman

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 12:27 p.m.

Cut the cops and firefighters pay. Why not? It is such an easy job to do. Do you want to do it? Do you want to work on Christmas, New Years, your son or daughter's birthday? Do you?


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : noon

Does the City of Ann Arbor seriously think that cutting the worker's salary will save all that much? Why not go after the top people in the City - they are the ones that spent the monies foolishly - look at the garage on Stone School - biggest waste of money - also - the mayor works for the University of Michigan and isn't it convienent that land gets sold to the University and therefore, the City of Ann Arbor loses out on the tax revenue - do you know how much money the city would have if it got taxes from all that land? And a round a bout on Geddes? Why? I think the city needs to clean house on the top - Sue McCormick doesn't even live in teh city - she lives in Lansing and has a company car that totes her to and from work - there is an expense that can be cut - and she isn't the only one - City of Ann Arbor employees are very loyal - the people that make the decisions have no concern for the residents of ann Arbor - they have proven that by spending and spending. To the workers of Ann Arbor - don't let this happen - make them take it from where it needs to be stripped.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 9:34 a.m.

Not a bad thought, Jim. I'm sure they could stream it live on the City website in addition to cable, although the cable broadcast would continue to be more accessible for most people. Most people have a TV these days, but computers and high-speed internet are not nearly as universal. The cable company is required to provide public channels anyway so the only cost to maintain a cable broadcast is the equipment needed to send the signal to Comcast (in addition to the cost of cameras and operators at the meetings). What we don't need are full-time staff and a large studio, currently being leased out on Industrial Blvd.

Jim Johnson

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 8:35 a.m.

In response to "townie", why not just webcast the council meetings on Youtube as well?


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 8:14 a.m.

Why is Community Access Television, with a budget of over $1.5 million, not on Fraser's list for cuts? The broadcast of public meetings is an important service, but everything else is unnecessary. Public access was a good idea back in the day; giving average Joe's training on how to record, edit and broadcast videos on any topic they chose. With the internet and the amazing advances in technology, anyone can now make a video on their cellphone and put it up on You Tube or their own website. CTN, except for broadcast of meetings, is obsolete and needs to be cut back to just the staff, equipment and space required to maintain that service.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 7:55 a.m.

@uponthehill, you are so correct. When I read that the major wants a 3% paycut across the board, I thought it was april 1st and this was a "fools joke"! 3% will not do squat. they need to cut the union's and non union benefits/healthcare and implement at least a 5% paycut on top of that. In addition to that there needs to be a hiring freeze and future reductions in staffing reflecting loss of residents/taxpayers as people leave this once great state.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 1:53 a.m.

I just read in the NYT that the ACLU executive staff is taking a 15% pay cut due to funding shortages from a major donor. 3% is going to hurt someone, i.e. a clerical employee, much more than a department head who makes over $100K. Noble only in it's appearance by the Mayor to "offer" any type of solution. However, this still doesn't fix any real problems that the city has with its budget. Window dressing as usual for Hieftje. Fraser's ego is just incredible if it weren't for his arrogance. These budget issues didn't see the light of day during the vote for the new city "FrasMaHall" (he's built other edifices to himself in former communities he managed), nor were there "serious" discussions when the possibility of Pfizer pulling out, nor again, when the city decided to go into the Real Estate business with the 600 space parking underground. If you look at the past few years, there have been very questionable decisions as it relates to the city's finances. From the YMCA, Court Building, art work, golf courses, one begins to wonder if there is adequate leadership. These issues/problems didn't start overnight, yes, there is (was) a near financial meltdown globally, however, what did this have to do with city( and I used this term lightly) leaders making sound long term financial decisions? Still, according to both Hieftje and Fraser, they acknowledge that response time will be slowed by laying off 14 fire fighters. Gee, I hope this isn't my house when this occurs or a truck staff with a crew that doesn't know where my house is! It just seems incredible that something could had been worked out with the county to keep the courts where they were instead of building a $40M building, yet the city and county are beginning talks of consolidation in other areas of services??? Didn't Tom Crawford come from Kmart when it went bankrupt?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:41 p.m.

Those of you who think non-union employees haven't taken their hits are wrong. It's on the backs of the non-union employees that this 3% cut (or any other) will most likely occur and not within the City's many union contracts. Non-union employees have already been through staffing cuts, paying for a portion of health insurance premiums (starting about 5 years ago) and lost 2 sick days at the same time. Automatic step raises (years of service 1 through 5) were eliminated. Pay for performance was also instituted, so there are no guarantees of any increase even in the "good" years (in the "bad" - zero in my department this year). The majority of the police department still doesn't pay for health insurance and has had guaranteed (both step and annual) raises in each and every contract. The fire department is probably the same. I'd be happy to give back 3% if all of the employees shared the burden. We're so lucky to have what we have.

The Dark Knight

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:39 p.m.

It sounds as though the Citizenry of this Metropolis want relief from the burden of an inept city hall. Why not close down city hall completely... stop arguing about what everyone makes and pay no one. What would be your predicament then? No cops, no firefighters? Would we be at the Gates of Heaven or on the Slopes of Hell? If this board is batty enough to believe they can be safe from the darkness of this world by laying off their first line of protection and then cutting salaries of those left behind... well... I have a proposal for you.... I obviously know how to fight crime. Maybe I can pick up some firefighting tips from my superhero friends. I, the Dark Knight, will protect the City of Ann Arbor... for a small fee. And when you or the Mayor wants to cut that... I will move on to another Metropolis that better understands who it is that actually holds the line between one of the most livable cities in America and one of the most feared cities in America. Let me know... I will be looking skyward for your signal...


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 4:12 p.m.

Does this mean the mayor will take a pay cut too? Will he continue to set the rules & not follow them. ALL of city counsel should be let go. Bubba

Sabra C Briere

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 3:38 p.m.

Ms. Griswold's comments came at 11:30, just prior to the end of the council meeting. Whether councilmemmbers intended to be rude, or just wanted the meeting over, could be debated. But her suggested that we ask members of council to work for $150 a month might not get us the council we want. Maybe we don't have that now, for that matter, but I'm not certain her idea would be an improvement. We couldn't ask those folks to return our calls, or stay up until midnight at meetings, or come to our neighborhood to look at broken sidewalks, or spend their weekends in meetings. Who would do that for love? Well, maybe the wealthy. Not everyone on coujncil is wealthy. Do we want them to be? a 3% cut in all expenses would be fine, including salaries. How abuot guaranteeing no public/private partnership for the libary lot? Let's demand that one? How about leaving ARGO dam alone? Fix the berm and don't do more than keep that ol' status quo. That would save some real money for the next couple of years. NO MORE consultants and stop the rezoning madness. All those demands on city staff must cost us all something. Talk about furloughs -- why not keep the city open but give more days off without pay? So, maybe every department has to have a plan with staff working fewer days, depending on the services they provide? If it's really that much of an emergency, we all still expect the service, and it's supposed to be temporary!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 2:55 p.m.

@Kathy. Well said, but it's the lack of leadership by the Mayor and the inflated egos on council that leads them to micro manage and second guess city staff and the public.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 2:49 p.m.

It was interesting to see the salaries. They are not extravagant. After Pfizer and M-Care shut down, we got resumes from administrative assistants and secretaries who had been making more than almost any employee listed here, including some of the attorneys - high 80's and up.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 2:31 p.m.

A 3% pay cut is the least the employees can do in these troubled times. The city should also look into reducing staff in every department. Having seen government work from the inside, trust me there are frequently more employees than is needed to get the job done. The city is doing a great job providing services, but they can and should do it more efficiently. Cut staff now.

Kathy Griswold

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 1:46 p.m.

I recommend that council members' salaries be replaced with a $150/month expense reimbursement similar to the Board of Education. This would clearly send a message to council that they are a policymaking body and differentiate them from city staff. Ann Arbor has a council-manager form of government, which is defined by Wikipedia as: The council is responsible for establish policy, passing local ordinances, voting appropriations and developing an overall vision for the city. Council appoints a manager to oversee daily operations of the city and to implement the policies of the council. Based on my experience with the City over the last fifteen years, council has been so involved in the operations of the city that they have had little time left for decisive policymaking. The result is that the professional staff (management and white-collar, nonunionized staff) is forced to try to make recommendations and decisions based on ever shifting political positions. A very concrete example is the request to move the King School crosswalk to a safer location. A citizen made this request two years ago, and it has resulted in over 100 emails and over 30 hours of staff time, not including council time. However, no decision has been made. It has become a political issue even though the Transportation Safety Committee (TSC), with city engineering representation, recommended the move in early 2009, based on engineering and safety criteria. The lack of clear policy and the politicalizing of the simplest projects undermine the authority of the professional staff and negatively impact their productivity. Thus the savings from reimbursing council members for policymaking, not paying them as part-time employees, is many times the approximate $150,000 savings in council salaries. A conservative estimate of the savings, based on management best practices, is that the nonunionized professionals could be reduced by the same 18% as the union staff has been reduced since 2002. This would result in a reduction of an additional 22 professionals, at a much greater savings than reducing 14 firefighters. A bonus is that citizen complaints might be resolved in a timely manner if council reduced their involvement in operations. Also, it is difficult for council to objectively evaluate the city administrator, their only employee, when they are working in an operational capacity with his staff.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 1:35 p.m.

I just don't get it they have to cut expenses because of a deficiy?....the parking moeny in the city goes to the DDA, instead of the city?...the DDA made so much money, they spent over $700K for those ridiculous signs all over the place...why isn't this going back to the city? Are the meter personnel employees of the DDA or of the city? I just get the feeling the money is there, but being skillfully misdirected from the taxpayer's attention...and if the DDA can make money on parking, as well as the subcontractor, Republic Parking Systems...why can't the city get it's head out of it's butt and make money as well?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 1:12 p.m.

Folks... the 3% was FIRST mentioned by the Mayor last night. Prior to that it was around either 10-25% depending on who you talk to. AND THEN... they were still going to cut the fire department. So, all this about the FD should do... keep in mind, the city has been give MULTIPLE ideas on how to cut costs and actually generate revenue. They choose to ignore all of that and only look at wages. Fraser keeps saying, "All things are being looked at." Well, sure. If 'all' means that we just want your wages and don't care about what you have to offer. Then I guess you can believe him.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:55 p.m.

Logo: The word I got from the retreat is that they are going to close Station 4 (huron pwky/Platt) and Station 3 (Jackson Ave). It will take more then just closing one of the two trucks from the downtown station to make up the difference. But, you are right they are there to help HVA with medical calls. I know when the day comes for me to need an ambulance I hope the firefighters are there to help. I am pretty sure 2 paramedics aren't going to be able to carry me down a flight of stairs by themselves. Even if they send their biggest and strongest its going to take more then 2 people(I am rather on the large side). Or maybe they should just make everyone that has chest pains and difficulty breathing walk themselves down the stairs. Are 2 paramedics going to be able to pull me from a car wreck and get me on a backboard? How about when my heart stops? Are 2 paramedics going to be able to do chest compressions and help me breath and start IVs and give drugs? As I said on another comment string on another article, I wouldn't have you believe they are needed at every call. But who really knows the true situation till you get there. And by keeping enough people around to go to these calls and assist HVA, you keep a well staffed department to fight the once a day fires. And the word I am getting is that the city has yet to propose a 10% paycut to the union. If that was all it took to get a guarnetee that they would leave staffing levels alone, I would guess they would take a really hard look at it and present it to the union body. My sources tell me that has yet to happen.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:41 p.m.

I suggest that upper management ranks take a paycut greater than 3% - perhaps 8% or even 10%. This is the practice in the private sector. Kristin Judge is right, the city really should look into merging some services with neighboring municipalities. Building permits and inspection are perfect examples. Is there anything preventing us from combining police and fire protection services with the county? This could allow us to maintain the number of police officers and firemen, but share the cost of administrative and facility overhead. How about having some furlough days? Could some of the offices be shut down one Friday a month? In fact, could some offices change to operate four days a week on an ongoing basis? The city leaders need to start thinking of smarter ways to reduce spending while minimizing the impact to the citizens.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:26 p.m.

Flag: The news coming out of the budget retreat was that they would not close a station but take a truck out of service downtown. Given the fact that there is very good ambulance service with HVA and 90% of the trips the FD takes are for medicals where they basically help HVA it is clear they need to start running only on real emergencies. The FD is for fighting fires and there are a lot less than there used to be so it makes sense we can get by with fewer people but it is too bad they have to be laid off. If the whole department agreed to a 10% pay cut that would save a number of jobs.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

"They said the plan is to still have an initial response of four personnel on the scene of a fire in the same time they currently arrive." How is that possible with the closing of 2 fire stations? Reponse times will absolutly increase. If you don't believe that then they have successfully pulled the wool over your eyes. The question should be 'do you care?'


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:58 a.m.

Wait till the Commercial Propertiess hit the skids, you've haven't seen nothing yet, you think the housing market, auto and banking markets went belly up, next year will be even worse. The dollar is at an all time low and will get lower, move over like the Mexcian peso, I would consider the 3% and maybe a few days off per month if you want to save your job and be thankful you are working. All but the Federal Government will be impacted, the Afgan War will cost $30 Billion per month and climb over the next 2 years, THe New Health Care plan will bankrupt many small businesses, and this is the NEW CHANGE.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:49 a.m.

To Ryan Stanton - That was a very useful link you published. Good facts to interpret. Can you provide other links as to how this set of data fits into the total budget picture for Ann Arbor?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:31 a.m.

So the facts are coming out. The Art Fund money can't be spent on the fire department or for the poor. The new courthouse and police station they had to build is having only a small effect on the budget. $275,000 out of a $300 million overall budget is peanuts and the community will have an asset that has been needed for decades. Other cities in the state are having the same or worse problems. How many of them have 40% of their land off the tax roles. Now another 4.75% of the city's revenue is gone with the UM takeover of the Pfizer property. The city millage is lower now than back in 2000 and just 28% of all the property taxes paid. So, for all you city basher's: Are all the other cities in the state that are going though the same thing mismanaged too?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:16 a.m.

The council can't vote themselves a pay cut. They could recommend one to the commission set up under state law to govern pay for elected officials and that was what the mayor did last night. As others have said, this was a good step. Let's hope city employee's and their union leadership see the light. The unions at the county participated in taking a pay cut, all except the sheriffs. The public safety unions can hide under the skirts of Act 312. Lansing is the cause of most of the problems the cities are having including refusing to eliminate Act 312.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:13 a.m.

Looking at the salary list, I absolutely agree that the people in the upper pay scales should cut back, to show parity with the private sector struggles. However, the staff who are supporting families at the $20-35K level should be spared the cuts. People at the lower income levels will face real difficulty with these cuts, whereas the top paid employees will only be giving up luxuries.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:11 a.m.

I don't know the motivation behind the attack on housing inspectors, but we need more frequent inspections, not fewer. Lack of inspections means that the quality of our rental housing stock is allowed to decline. That means blighted neighborhoods as well as problems for renters. Houses allowed to decline through lack of maintenance may eventually cause a fire hazard or other environmental problem, and are sometimes then proposed for demolition. Some of these structures have historic value. So our overall attractiveness and functionality as a residential center is compromised by lack of adequate housing inspections.

Blue Eyes

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:59 a.m.

Karen Sidney hit the nail on the head. The City needs to eliminate management positions. It's been eliminating the "worker bees" so why in the world have they continued to add managers and supervisors? If managers and supervisors can't handle their jobs, rather than adding other managers and supervisors, replace those who can't cut it. This month alone they're interviewing for Planning & Development Manager and Fire Chief - both of these positions are already vacant!...and they've added a temporary supervisor for the Planning & Development clerical staff since Fall 09.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:21 a.m.

It might have been easier to take the mayor seriously last night had he put his money where his mouth is. Anybody at the table could have proposed an immediate pay cut for council and the mayor... and FRASER. They are telling everybody else to tighten their belts. Why not show how serious they are and go ahead and vote themseleves a pay cut. Fraser might actually get some city employees to take him seriously if he decreased his own pay. However, I am sure that after his high salary, bonuses, car allowance, and stipends, Roger will make even more this year than he did last year.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:16 a.m.

@calmic Not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but if you follow this link you will find the salaries of employees under the "Housing Bureau" around pages 31-32.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:09 a.m.

Dear Mayor and City Council: Instead of laying off firefighter, how about eliminating the Housing Inspection Bureau. As its name implies, this department is a relic of the Soviet era -- a totally useless and inefficient department carrying out a completely useless mission. Renters in Ann Arbor do not need the "protection" of these buffoons. Note to Ryan: Could you find out from Mr. Frasier how much this bureau costs the city? I would ask him myself, but he doesn't return emails.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 10:08 a.m.

uponthehill You hit it out of the park. To be crying about a proposed 3% cut is very disingenuous. I don't usually agree with the mayors policies and such but he finally showed some ( if only a little) intestinal fortitude. Lets agree to the 3% cut then start to stop some of the frivolous spending as well! Face it PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SHOULD HAVE TO ANSWER TO THE PUBLIC!!!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:58 a.m.

Longfellow. I agree with everything you said in your post.I will never get why the city can be five plus million in debt and spend money like it is.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:41 a.m.

3%? 3%, that's all that's being asked - and there are people grousing? Please. 3% will hardly be felt - loosing jobs - that will be felt, and for a long time to come: reduced tax base and increased pressures on those left holding the bag (not to mention the increased work load of the police and fire departments are already feeling). Three Percent - that's easy. Here's another way to look at it - you go shopping and a business having a 3% off sale - does it even make you look? Not really because the difference is so small. In this economic environment - everyone (including city council and the mayor) need to make adjustments - 3% - come on people, that's not much - so many have lost their jobs and you are grousing about 3%.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:40 a.m.

agreed. Long overdue. Private sector has fared much worse already.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:32 a.m.

At this critical time and more deficits to come,everyone must confront the fact that cuts touch everyone,just as impossible taxes do.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:16 a.m.

It is a good start. Maybe the school system will look into that as well. AAPS has paid the principal for the new High School (Skyline) for TWO YEARS!!! including her secretary before they had a single student. And they came shamelessly to us to pay for their mistakes. Did you look on your tax bill? What in the world in "School Debt" and why should we pay for it? Why not people who got the debt? Why not pay for GM debt, or Ford debt or who knows what? Oh, I know, these are not publicly funded so they don't have to account for their problems but come to our doors to pay for it. So when the city will put a mileage on the ballot next time, you know what you have to do.

Karen Sidney

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:13 a.m.

In addition to layoffs of fire fighters, the city is also not replacing 8 police positions. We now have 26 fewer police officers than we did last June. I'd like to see Council focus on trimming the non union management ranks before they rubber stamp Fraser's recommendations to get most of the budget savings from police and fire services.

Kristin Judge

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:10 a.m.

The time has come for all units of government to look seriously about cooperating with each other to reduce expenses and maintain service levels. We will either survive together or go down separately. After being in office for a year, I have heard local governments talking about collaboration quite a bit. Unfortunately, just talking about local government collaboration is no longer enough. It is time to restructure our current framework. I am ready to work with any other elected official to find projects within Washtenaw County that can save taxpayers money. Residents need to start getting used to the term "local control" meaning something a little different than it has in the past. Let's get to work! Feedback and your thoughts welcome. My email is Kristin Judge, Washtenaw County Commissioner


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:07 a.m.

OK, I see it clearly it is now Engler's fault. You can blame him for being apart of having twins, but you can not blame him for everything, or can you? I do like the contribution part or DCP. Put some skin in the game. This is only the tip of the iceberg, be careful who is minding the ship. The life you save may have to be your own. As for the union managing the plan, who would you suggest they have do that Jimmy Hoffa? Maybe they could SEIU to do that for them? They like to have their fingers where the money is. TAXES, TAXES, TAXES, you want services you pay taxes! No free lunch out there Freddy, NO FREE LUNCH.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 8:03 a.m.

Let me do the math. 14 fire fighters (>15% of staffing) and everyone else is being asked to cut 3%. How does this work?

Stop & Think

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:45 a.m.

to Awakened & jondhall-it seems that you both have a VERY bitter view of unions. May I remind you that this county was build over the last 50 years on unions, at least in this region. There is no arguing that reductions are needed but also understand that a certain past city admin padded the retirment fund quite well for himself and ANY city employee. The fire dept doesn't want anything additional for a contract. They are already paying a higher co-pay ln medical (which wasn't report in But the question is why should the FD agree to a 3% decrease in wages when the city is still going to dump 14 people? Hmmm doesn't sound like a good choice. The FD has cut almost 600k out of their budget in an attempt to cut costs but the city doesn't care...they want something else and arn't willing to discuss it with the union. Mr Fraser....what is it that you want from the FD? They would really like to know. as to awakened and jondhall go stand in the corner and preach your unhappiness to the corner everyone hates the union even this sucky so called reporting agency.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:41 a.m.

Out of touch city government: As usual, poor planning and reckless spending on THEIR part... constitutes an emergency on OUR part.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:19 a.m.

The pension fund was funded to 100 percent prior to last fall's crash. That was responsible. But it did not anticpate hard times. Retiree's need their retirement funded during their 25 years of work and their (ballpark average) 15 years of retirement. It is a long term plan. It must anticipate that wages, costs andbenefit costs will go up long term. These must be gradually weened from the system or it will cost US more. However satisfying it would be to just say no. These next contracts should contain SERIOUS reductions in benefits for future retirees. Perhaps a reduction in the percentage of pay out. That would get people retiring as surely as the more expensive buyout option the firefighters union is proposing...take it now or lose!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:10 a.m.

Awakened may well be right about the costs associated with the DBP. I would think it would be funded on a yearly basis, but that would be fiscally responsible now would it not? This may not be "politically correct" but who cares, step up show some "hair". That is the job of a mayor to make the tough stances, the tough decisions, not to milk everything for more votes! If the city goes Bankrupt there may be no DBP at all, think of that one. If they keep giving in to Union Demands, they will end up like GM. Thank God I do not live in the city of Ann Arbor and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:06 a.m.

Just curious, how much do all those turn-around circles cost? Do City employees get to keep their health benefits? I agree with Awakened, forethought is a wonderful thing.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:56 a.m.

This is long overdue. It is also only right to have everyone take the hit. The unions have no argument now to stonewall on this. jondhall...the changeover from defined benefits to defined contribution could be very costly in the long run. Vested employees (read everyone after several years of hiring freezes) have to be paid. As do current retirees. That cost for current retirees are funded by current contributors (since the fund lost any gains in the market slump). If you cut out future employee contributions that means it all falls on the employer. That means your taxes. This is a plan that must be done gradually over a period of time. Read a decade. It should already have started. Reduce pension benefits in negotiation and increase employee contributions into 401's while gradually building up a surplus in the pension fund. All this is REALLY tough to do while the economy is bad. They should have done it while the economy is good. They may have to wait until the economy goes back to booming to be able to afford it.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:39 a.m.

A little pain for the municipal workers is "long over do", the private employees have been giving up and giving back, welcome to the real world. It is not much but it is a start, next year I suggest 13% pay cuts. This may be the best thing this mayor has ever proposed! Give a Little is is the CHRISTMAS SEASON! In this case I would like to say no MANGER no MONEY! Up year after, no defined benefit plans, better find you a financial planner. That means no pension plans for the educated ones out there!


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:25 a.m.

Pay cuts, are you serious? What about cutting the art expenses? What about cutting all the unnecessary construction projects? why is the city spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on non-priority projects? Why do the city employees have to suffer for the city's lack of financial planning/ priorities????? This type of financial irresponsibility is borderline illegal...