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Posted on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Ann Arbor police chief to City Council: 'We can't afford to lose a police officer'

By Ryan J. Stanton


Police Chief Barnett Jones told the City Council Monday night the police department can't afford to lose any more officers. "I lose sleep at night now trying to figure out how I can manage this if I lose my kids," he said. "And I'm sorry I call them kids but I'm the oldest guy in the police department."

Ryan J. Stanton |

Police Chief Barnett Jones expressed concern Monday night that any further staffing cuts in the Ann Arbor Police Department could have serious consequences.

Specifically, he said, it could hinder proactive policing methods that have helped solve crimes in neighborhoods - like a rash of burglaries on the Old Northwest Side that officers investigated and put a stop to last year.

"If we lose those police officers, I may lose my proactive ability to do things like that," Jones said.

The city's ability to maintain adequate police services dominated the discussion Monday as the Ann Arbor City Council met for another budget working session.

The city is trying to close the gap on a $5.2 million deficit in the general fund for the fiscal year that starts in July. Because public safety makes up nearly half the general fund budget, police and fire services face the largest cuts, and the jobs of several police officers and firefighters are on the chopping block.

The police department already has $3.8 million in savings worked into its fiscal year 2010-11 budget due to cutbacks last year - mostly by eliminating vacant positions and offering early retirements. The city offered buyouts to officers and expected 18 to go, but 24 took the offer, along with two dispatchers.

The police department has been asked to trim an additional $1.98 million from its $26.5 million budget to meet a 7.5 percent reduction target√ā¬†administrators asked all departments to make.

In the police department, that means the potential elimination of another 17 positions by laying off nine sworn police officers and getting rid of seven positions in the community standards division and one management assistant.

"We can't afford to lose a police officer," Jones told council members Monday night. "Since 2000, we've gone from 216-plus police officers down to 124. Our reality is we have been doing the best we can ... but we're at a point where there are some quality of life issues. As a police chief, I cannot stand here and say I can afford to lose any more police officers."


Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, listens while Jones speaks during Monday night's meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

City Administrator Roger Fraser told council members not every department in the city will be affected equally by the budget cuts. When it comes time to make final decisions, he said, some departments may see cuts greater than 7.5 percent, and some may see a lesser percentage.

"What we're challenged to do here is to come up with a financial plan so we can live within our means," he said.

Mayor John Hieftje reminded those in attendance that many other cities in Michigan are facing budget challenges.

"I don't think there's any city left in Michigan that hasn't been going through some really, really tough decisions, and we're going to be doing it for the next several months," he said. "But things usually brighten up a little bit by the time we get to (approving) the budget. ... It always looks darker until we get to the point where we really have to make decisions."

Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, brought up the fact that increasing revenue also is an option. The two leading ideas are a city income tax and a Headlee Amendment override.

Hohnke, who hasn't been in favor of either of those ideas, said the city needs to understand what size work force is right for each department, including police, and what the right levels of compensation are before revenue options are considered.

Jones told council members police officers actually generate revenue for the city. He said each traffic officer brings in $110,000 per year in revenue. He said community standards officers bring in about $7,700 each from code enforcement, not including money written for parking violations.

Jones' plan for cuts in the police department would reduce the number of community standards officers from 10 to 5, which he acknowledged isn't ideal and would reduce services. Community standards is a division of the Ann Arbor Police Department that enforces the city's various codes and ordinances.

Jones said he has spent the last three years and seven months as chief finding creative solutions to shift officers to keep an adequate number patrolling the city's streets. He said he's pulled some officers away from other areas like surveillance and drug enforcement, and he's running out of officers to reassign.

"We're getting to a point where if I lose any of those officers, I'm going to have to diminish some of those areas," he said, adding it will involve setting new priorities. "There are some things that I'm looking at that, if I lose those police officers, would change how we do business. If a person has an accident on the street, they may have to come back to the station to fill out the report."

Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, went on record Monday night saying she is not in favor of the level of cuts being proposed in the police department. She also said the city should engage residents to get feedback on the budget in the coming months, possibly with a town hall meeting.


Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, called for a process of community engagement with regard to the city's budget.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, wasn't in attendance Monday but relayed a "white paper" she authored on the city's budget problems via e-mail to council members and Fraser. Briere states in her paper the city cannot keep making incremental changes - they must be systemic changes.

In other discussions Monday night, city officials talked of the possibility of outsourcing emergency management services by contracting with the sheriff's department.

Jones advised against it, saying it was best to keep that function in house so the city can control when emergencies are declared. He also said the city has received $2.2 million in emergency management grants in the last 10 years and could lose its competitive edge for that funding.

Council members also engaged Dan Rainey, director of the city's information technology department, in a discussion about possibly outsourcing IT functions. Rainey advised against it.

Rainey said the city and county have been collaborating on IT initiatives for the last two years to save money. Of the city's $5.6 million operating budget for IT, he said, $2.7 million goes toward personnel costs for 22 employees, and the rest goes toward software and other operating costs.

He said the city already is getting the lowest price possible for the software, hardware and other services it uses. And as for outsourcing staff, Rainey said his job and two project manager positions would have to stay. That leaves the city with 19 people who earn a blended rate of $50 an hour, which Rainey said is cheaper than can be found by outsourcing.

The City Council's next budget session is March 8.

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


The Grinch

Sun, Feb 28, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

No, sorry, It did not attack anyone. It attacked their ideas. You need to learn to differentiate between the two. That said: stunshif and alphaalpa: Comparing pay by dividing total pay by the number of employees is... well... er... not very sophisticated (hows that If you insist on comparing public sector compensation to private sector compensation and using that as justification for pay cuts in the public sector, try this as a start point (and, admittedly, this is only a start pointit is far more complicated than this set of questions suggests): 1) What is the average compensation for a public sector worker with a high school education or less compared to that of a private sector worker? Bachelors Degree? Masters Degree? This makes a difference because, on average, Im willing to bet that public sector employees have more education that those in the private sector given the blue-collar nature of our states economy. Your simple averaging exercise does not take this into account. 2) What is the average compensation for a public sector employee who has gone through extensive training not leading to a degree (e.g.,, police, fire, EMT) compared to that of the private sector? It matters not who paid for that training, BTW. Lose that person, lose their experience and training and start from scratch. It's why the military pays huge bonuses to those who re-enlist--it understands the value of the training and experience that will be lost if the soldier returns to civilian life. 3) The City of Ann Arbor has $1 billion in assets and a $200 million budget. What is the compensation of a CEO who manages that size of a company compared to that of the Ann Arbor City Manager? What is the compensation of a CEO who manages assets and budget similar to that of any local school district compared to that districts superintendant? 4) How does pay for all of these positions with their levels of experience compare to those of the public sector in other states? This is, of course, important, because if we are not competitive with other states, we will be attracting less talented people and the talented people we have now will leave. This is the definition of the "race to the bottom." As I said above, this is a start toward a more meaningful comparison. Anything less is.... well.. dare I say it... unsophisticated.

Steve Pepple

Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 7:49 p.m.

A comment has been removed because it contained personal attacks against other commenters.


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

Our Ann Arbor city workers are compensated at just over twice the rate of the average US worker.


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Grinch, I don't hate unions at all, they apparently hate their own because they would rather throw their least senior and most vulnerable and also the lowest paid under the bus. We see this all the time. The Saline Teachers Union would rather lay off, the Ann Arbor Police would rather lay off their lowest senior folks rather than take reasonable pay cuts. As I have stated previously, I and all my fellow employees took a 5% paycut, no longer have company funding into our 401K ( no pension here ) and are paying twice for healthcare what we used to. to keep our company in business. Despite all that, we still lost 4 million dollars in 2009. The bottom line is that almost all of us cannot afford to pay more in taxes. There is a lot of "fat" that can be trimmed from union contracts without causing pain for those employees. Answer me one question Grinch. Why is it that the folks with the best pensions and healthcare benefits are all government/state employees? The excuse used to be that they made less income than those in the private sector but that is no longer the case. They make on average $15,000 more than the average private pay in Michigan. How do you expect me to simply go along "business as usual" and pretend that this state is not in a financial crisis like most of us that live here. Live within your means!

The Grinch

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:28 p.m.

Stunshif: Public employees are no different from you. Kids in school. Spouses who have lost jobs. Older children who have moved back home because they have lost their jobs. Education funds that have collapsed with the stock market (which is still down nearly 30% over the past ten years). All of these things have happened to public employees, too, so the martyr routine not only does not work, but it wears thin. Partly because you're tapped out but mostly (as has become clear in numerous other posts) because you have an absolute hatred of unions, you insist that you not have to pay a modest tax increase so that public employees will have to pay a de facto 10% tax increase. That, sir, is the very definition of small. Finally, since the state is considering a mandatory 5% pay cut coupled with a 5-year pay freeze for all public employees in the state, no individual nor union, in their right mind, would negotiate in good faith a pay reduction only to have that pay reduced again without their approval a few months down the road. The atmosphere you and the politicians who think like you have created makes it less likely, not more, that public employees will agree to concessions. I choose the pseudonym "the Grinch" so that people like you might see their reflection in the mirror. That, however, would take some introspection.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:05 p.m.

I don't feel sympathy about Ann Arbor Police Department anymore. Each officer would earn $110,000 from traffic ticket? I was caught with a traffic ticket when I passed a car on Washtenaw & Palmer Dr. in central campus with a speed that my 8 years old Protege could not achieve in such short distance. I would be dead if I reached 50 miles per hour on that spot by crashing into the BioSci building. Anyone who experiences similar experience please email me at, we can try to improve the city together.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:47 p.m.

One last item. Funding is only partially financial. It is also political. Budgets are reflections of your elected officials and they may have a different opinion of what essential services are. In opinion, public safety, streets, water/sewer are essential services. But perhaps AA city council considers other programs as essential. Could this be a reason for PS cuts?


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:40 p.m.

Aanonliberal. Good for your uncle. I do not have to ride along, I did 28 years as a police officer. My comments are not "theories" what I posted it is first hand experience and from my close work with AAPD. Of note is that UMPD officers ride in single cars. No one has been assaulted while in a car on a computer or not, or is so it is extremely rare. An single officer car is sent backup if necessary. There have been studies that show that double officer cars are no safer. I imagine studies contrary can be found also, but you cannot argue the fact that single officer cars can respond better and improve patrol coverage. More cars on the road, more miles covered. As I noted before, most calls do not require two officers. Single officer care provide more visible presence. Also you make S Univ sound like a war zone. It is not. AA is a fairly safe place to work as an officer. My point simply is that there is little or no benefit, and far more negative impact with two officers in a car, and if staffing is an issue, this is one way to lessen the problem. Patrol staffing is a policy/procedure issue and should not be a contract item. Despite how AAPD and AAFD operate, I have almost three decades of experience with them and they are both excellent departments that should not be cut further. Some adjustments on benefits that were approved in "good times" have turned out to be extremely expensive and are causing most of the issues with funding across the country. Kudos to the AAFD for negotiating but look how it turned out. Most unions do not negotiate and if they don't the result is layoffs. Check Fridays Det Free Press regarding AFSCME for a good example.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

Just when I thought he had gone back into hibernation because winter is coming to an end. As usual, I believe you've been eating too much "who hash". All in jest Grinch! You want me to just pay a little more in taxes so the cops and their bosses can continue "business as usual". Tell me where the money tree is so I can go pick some money because I am literally broke my friend. I make good money, way above average, have a kid in college etc. You are going to have to be the one to tell my wife she needs to get a job and leave the 18 month old baby "home alone" because we cannot afford child care unless you want to pay for it?

The Grinch

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

Yup, refuse to pay a modest tax increase and instead impose a de facto 10% tax on public employees. Sounds fair.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 6:59 a.m.

True. I notice the Detroit mayor wants a 10% pay cut for workers there. Even a 5.8% reduction here would eliminate the current deficit. 10% would provide a surplus; we could save for the future. With city workers earning an average total compensation just over twice what national average civilians do, there is likely much potential for saving tax dollars via compensation normalization... As the recession worsens, expect more calls for fair city wages.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 12:12 a.m.

Have all the cops and their bosses take a 10% cut to pay and all benefits and not a single cop needs to get laid off.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

@AAnonliberal... are you new? :) Just teasing. I'm an AA city firefighter. There have been numerous articles about the layoffs and how the city has been playing games with us. It always seems to bring out the people that know everything about how FD/PD function and better yet, how we should function. "Self proclaimed experts" is the phrase I like. I always appreciate the few residents (actually I should say couple) that have stood up and spoke against the cuts at a council meeting. I even will take the time and have a professional conversation with those want to ask questions of us to get more informed. I welcome that. It's the people, like the blogers you talk about, who have never stepped foot in a fire station, police station, or been jumped by those you are trying to help that seem to know everything about nothing. Those are the ones that get my blood pressure up. For those of you that this applies to, I suggest sometime you call your area fire station or police departmet to make an appointment to sit down and ask your questions to people that ACTUALLY KNOW THE ANSWERS. Not post rants to a bunch of bloggers who all have 'the solution'. Some of the great 'solutions' I've read here are clearly written by people that have no idea now public safety operates. All I ask is that you make an attempt to educate yourself before making assumptions. And for the most part there are really only 3 or 4 die hard bloggers here that would rather just spew their opinions rather than learn any of the facts. The problem is, it's usually those morons the influence the rest of the residents.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

Mick, the problems with your theroies is that U of M people crash and not on U of M property (AAPD); U of M people get robbed, not on U of M property (AAPD); Do you think that Friday night on S. University is predominately Ann Arbor residence or U of M students in the bar fights? (AAPD). Mick, ever been in a fight with someone who has to go to jail and doesn't wnat to go, at any cost? No! That is why there are two officers in the car, contractually at night mostly. Because according to FBI stats that is when most officers are assaulted. When is the last time you were assaulted just for sitting behind your computer doing your job? Don't pretend to know what a cop is/does or needs. You'd be the first to say something about 8 cop cars at a large downtown bar fight with only eight cops there. But, you wouldn't blink an eye at 4 cop cars there with 8 cops. 8 cars on the road for 8 cops (more gas, maintenance, chances of accidents, etc) You don't have to agree that more cops are needed or not but do not pretend you know what cops need or do. No I'm not a cop but, my uncle is and I've road with him and talked with him. Do a ride along, Mick, and then imagine doing that every day, not knowing if your job will call you to run towards danger as everyone else runs away.


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 3:08 a.m.

Its frustrating to hear people keep blaming the U. UM employees do not use city police service, garbage removal or parking. The city is smaller because of UM's presence. Adjust. Perhaps Phizer decided to close this plant because the tax rates were higher than where their other plants are located. Has anyone in city hall recommended privatizing the vast city housing commission? City Council has long advocated "low income housing." I have yet to hear any budget discussions on cutting those costs. Most cities do not provide low income housing by owning multiple apartment buildings. Or privatize garbage collection and recycling. Refuse usually is a prime target for privatizations. Keep the recycling if it is paying for itself, but sell it if not. The city made this mess from its spending. Its retirement program is very expensive as is its benefits. There are many Police officers now making more in retirement pay than when they were working. There used to be a contract provision that requires two officer in every patrol car after dark. For "safety." One car with two officers can cover half of what two single officer cars can cover and respond to half of the calls. Most police responses do not require two officers. A double car with an arrest results in two officers off the road. I am not sure if this provision still exists but if it does ending it will expand patrol, and actually increase response as more cars will be on the road. Five two officer cars or ten single officer cars. Which gives you better patrol coverage? The U ended its police contract with the city because the cost was too high and the service was poor because of the different nature of response. The UM owns the buildings and you have to know them inside and out, not just the street address. Relieving the city of UM calls and creating UMPD was a benefit for both departments. Fire calls to UM buildings are not common and the state is supposed to be reimbursing the city. Take FD funding up with the state. I am sure council would be if the governor was a republican. AAFD station 5 is a UM building, the U has let AAFD have it for decades. That is somewhat generous. The comment on how much officers make is ominous. Sounds like the chief is looking for approval to let the officers loose big time. AAPD and AAFD are excellent departments, better than most in Michigan. No further cuts should be made from essential services. If you cut them the quality will diminish. Cut the fat.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 10:10 p.m.

I meant to add that I love the comment that Marcia Higgins wants to engage the community in the budget process now that they have spent all of our money, they want us to bail them out.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

According to an article in Forbes magazine last month, the highest property taxes are in the Northeast. Of the other 3 regions, the midwest, west and south, 5 counties with the highest median property taxes are listed. My property taxes were higher than all of those except the northeast. Now hang on to your hat. The national median for property taxes is $1180 per year! Does anyone in Ann Arbor pay anything close to that? I really think they should factor in the tickets the police so generously hand out and the prices we have to pay to use any services in town such as parking, to our property tax rate. That would easily put us over the top.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

As I know it, interdepartmental "overhead charges" are things like IT services, City Garage vehicles, Attorney's office, and so called "administrative fees". These are charges for support for the kinds of things that the golf course might need to operate, like computers, vehicles, or legal work done by the Attorney's office. These charges also apply to other city departments or as they are now called "Service Areas". Departments like Utilities and others, get to charge (your water bill) for what they do/sell etc and are allowed to make a "profit", that is ostensibly used for department improvements but often those funds find their way to other things. Some money from Utilities made it's way to the Driesetl fountain under the rationalization that the fountain used water. When the economy was good and there was a lot of construction, the old "Building Department" was assessed good sized overhead charges and administrative fees and was essentially a cash cow to the General Fund in a round a bout way. But in the last five years, Fund 26, the "Construction Fund" has become depleted, not only due to the economy but to short sighted planning and not saving for a rainy day.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:39 p.m.

I have read the budget proposal posted by on their web site for documents. The city proposes eliminating 9 additional police officers. This is in addition to the orginal budget proposal cuts. They have one supervisor for every 3 - 3.5 officers. But no supervisors are cut? How much revenue do the Sergeants and Lieutenants bring in sitting behind a desk, Chief? If we have to cut officers shouldn't we be cutting command staff? 9 officers laid off - 3 Sergeants demoted to officers is only a cut of 6. An how about a Lieutenant to Sergeant? That should save a couple of bucks too. Maybe we could save one officer. Down to 5. Of course, Chief, I am assuming that it isn't just the positions of your fellow managers you are losing sleep over.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 6:56 p.m.

...I believe what Jones said was that "traffic officers" i.e. the 4-5 officers assigned to strictly traffic enforcement, which is only 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, bring in the stated amount of money. "Patrol" officers do bring in revenue through traffic law and City Code enforcement, but nowhere near the amount of the traffic unit officers.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 6:23 p.m.

Thank You "CaptainD". I'm tired of hearing U of M employees saying "what services do I use that I should pay an income tax"? An income tax would be taxation without representation" I don't know if you're an advocate of an income tax but it is an option and maybe we should consider it not as revenue generator, but revenue equalizer used in conjunction with systemic budgetary reorganization. Now on to the topic at hand. OK police officers average about 112,000 per year per officer(1.98M diveded by 17 officers) IT dept. is at 123,000 per employee(2.7M divided by 22). That's a lot of dough per employee. Officers bring in 110,000 each in fines, IT folks? I would bet the house that better purchasing costs could be found for software. Heck, with IT folks making that much they should be designing their own software. I think IT outsourcing could be had for less also. So my thoughts would be eliminate the IT dept. Have interested applicants submit resumes and proposals for their management of outsourcing, and re-hire accordingly. Then ask the existing vendors for a "lowest rate" based upon existing contracts held by the same firms. Problem solved, the cops pay for themselves(though I am opposed to the buyouts given to the 24 + 2 dispatchers) I say the city should not offer anymore buyouts to anybody. If they want to retire, let them do so at the already generous pension plan.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

@John Floyd It may seem trivial but can you expound on "8) Huron Hills covers its own costs right now. It's the city's overhead charges that makes it look under water." What sort of "overhead charges" that don't pertain to the running of the Golf course are there?

John Floyd

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

1) Our optional capital spending projects such as the duplicate courts building require diversion of General Funds into the city's Debt Service fund. The Debt service fund is not available for police & fire service, but it does come at the expense of police and fire services. 2) It is time for the University to stop being a free rider and finally make Payments in Lieu of Taxes to the city. At the very least, the U should hold the city mostly harmless for taking to Pfizer property off the tax rolls. When the U has employees making over $200,000 per year - indeed, over $500,000 per year, the concept of "non-profit" seems tounge-in-cheek. This is the one source of new revenue that seems legit. 3) Why is council even thinking of subsidizing the Valient Partners to both build and operate their hotel/convention center project? The Valient Partners proposal depends on the city issuing bonds to fund construction. Guess who will be responsible for the bonds if revenues are inadequate for debt service? 4) It is time to stop diverting city taxes, off-the-books, to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) via Tax Increment Financing. Let the DDA compete for city tax dollars with the police and fire departments. If DDA can make its case, well OK. If not, then DDA use of city tax dollars should be reduced accordingly. In this climate in particular, every dollar should be scrutinized. The DDA may turn out to be an essential function of government. Let's find out. 5) 1% for art comes from bond funds that cannot be spent for police, but to the extent that debt service on the bonds comes from the general fund, then the art comes at the expense of policemen. In any case, it is the wrong signal to spend money on fun "nice-to-haves" when also crying "wolf" about fundamental city services. That goes for the public art coordinator, as well. 6) Raising taxes in any form, but especially raising taxes on non-city residents, tells the world that Ann Arbor is over, like Detroit, Pontiac, or Flint. 7) The city has Greenbelt bonds to service, regardless of the number of policemen we have to lay off. It's worth examining whether current greenbelt tax revenues are in reasonable excess of debt service needs; if so, it might be worth a vote to consider re-purposing revenues in excess of debt service for, say, three years. This scheme could also be applied to other special-purpose millages that support capital projects. Suspending the "1% for Art" policy makes this more possible. 8) Huron Hills covers its own costs right now. It's the city's overhead charges that makes it look under water. Ask yourself: if we eliminated Huron Hills, what overhead would the city actually cut? 9) Ann Arbor voters can only hold the current crew accountable for mis-management if we show up at the polls in August, and again in November (absentee ballots count as showing up!). 5th Ward voters, in particular, will have a number of options in both the primary and general elections. An Arbor residents who support the political status quo by either voting for the current political class, or by NOT voting at all, will need to look in the mirror if they are unhappy with the choices of council and direction of the city.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

We don't need police officers - just more parking meters. Isn't that right city council?


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 3:19 p.m.

$2.7 Million divided by 22 employees...WOW!


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 2:53 p.m.

Yeah (-->)i'm a horrible speller. Don't worry I dont(


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.

Psst..loka I enjoy your comments but its through not throw

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

It was pointed out to me that "260-plus," in regard to the number of police officers in 2000, should actually be "216-plus." Sorry for the confusion. The story has been changed accordingly.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

@ BornNRaised You know everyone is full of ideas and not afraid to speak there mind when they're on the internet. Geting down to a CC meeting might actually ential going throw speed traps or driving in the snow which seems to be too big of a concern around here.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

Oh man the tears are a flowing today friends. At least 10 posts crying asbout Police doing their sad. "The other day I saw Police on the side of the road giving tickets to people breaking the law...i'm outraged!!!"

John Galt

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

As far as I'm concerned, the City can entirely cut many programs but should maintain funding for Police and Fire services--as these are basics. Art, Parks, Greenbelts, buildings and other (could care less about the artifical "money buckets"---they can be changed) items can go, if necessary.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

Well, we spent one police officer's salary this year to pay for lawyers to fight the DEQ so that we could maintain a private pond for a couple of hundred rowers. The $300K we'll be forced to spend on dam repair along with ongoing maintenance costs is another couple of officers. Take out Argo Dam, and you'll have a cleaner waterway, happy recreational paddlers, some money back for police officers, and a hundred really angry rowers who will have to drive an extra mile and a half to Barton Pond to do their sport.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

Why I agree that we can not lose another police officer, I do not agree with the "increase revenue" with a city income tax. the city shouldn't be playing realestate, sell the golf course, sell some of the unused properties, city council and the mayor and fraser should take a 10% paycut.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

To put this issue into perspective, at one point in Monday's discussion Mayor Hieftje stated: "Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think the city of Ann Arbor has ever laid off a police officer." Chief Jones said he couldn't recall any.

Regular Voter

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

"Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, brought up the fact that increasing revenue is also an option. The two leading ideas are a city income tax and a Headlee Amendment override." As a 20 year resident in the 5th Ward your statement is as offensive as it is outrageous. Expect the bum's rush you deserve; not re-election.

Lou Perry

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

Four weeks ago on my WLBY radio program, Chief Jones voiced his strong concern of discharges in police and fire persons and its effect on public safety. He said that he might get into trouble saying so, but it keeps me up at night and people need to know of my concern. The City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County are facing reality for the first time and they do not know what to do about it. As the City continues to try to have expenses match revenue, their inexperience of cutting expenses properly with a scalpel shines through using fairyland tactics. Public safety budgets are easy to identify within city expenses so thats what's cut - sophomoric. Didnt anybody ask the Chief what he thought before the cuts? I can give a number of ways to combine/reduce costs and it doesnt affect police and fire officers. Its time for City management and Council to grow-up.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

Somebody alluded to the challenges going on in other parts of the state, including some communities with millages up for renewal today tied to police services. Chief Jones made the following comment in that regard: "I have a partner who I know is not sleeping tonight because if citizens wake up tomorrow and are not voting for his millage, he's going to lose 50 police officers in the city of Troy. I have another one in Sterling Heights where I came from, 43 police officers. The sheriff's department where I worked, 178 police officers by October. The state police are not out of it. We're in Michigan, and there are hard decisions that have to be made."

pro 5-0

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

For those who don't think losing police officers is a big deal, wait until you're a victim of a crime and you have to wait because the A2 police are held up on other calls. Bet you'll have a change of heart then.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

If you do compare how AA's tax rate compares to state-wide you really need to take into account measuring against other comparable cities/townships. Detroit for example, has a fairly high tax rate because their property values are very low. I'm far from an expert in this area, however my inclination would be to compare against cities/townships where their SEVs per square foot is similar to Ann Arbor. Or a simpler method is to look at taxes per square foot.

scooter dog

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

I am glad I moved my business out of a2 many,many years ago.Got money for art projects but none for police/fire,obsured,totally obsured

Lynn Lumbard

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

Ryan, Would you look into how AA's tax rate compares to state-wide?


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

Council initiated the greenbelt tax proposal. They can also author a greenbelt tax suspension. Let the voters decide this, as well as any new tax. Any restriction in the charter that hampers smart governing can be presented to the voters for revision. Let the voters decide. If folly silo funds cannot be used for needed service, let's change the charter to allow it. What is wrong with our government that they are unwilling to imagine, or do this? The "we can't do this because" mentality is definitely a defense of pet projects, and self serving agenda. Our council system is truly broken. They are no longer able to envision what core services are, as well as manage a budget. : (


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

If you watched this part of the meeting you also know that big police layoffs are happening in other cities unless millages pass. In Troy they vote today to save 40 PD jobs, I think it was Sterling Heights that also has a millage up to save 40 or so PD jobs. It's funny how some here keep throwing up the same false statements. As anyone who reads here knows the art project money cannot be used (unless you want to break the law) for the police because it didn't come from the general fund but from dedicated funds. Something else, they said last night the police buy back pays for itself in just a few years. If you recall, they used it to clear out the higher paid staff who were mostly riding desks, instead of laying off patrol officers. It was way under seven.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

From the article: "The police department has...$26.5 million budget "we've gone from 260-plus police officers down to 124" "Jones told council members police officers actually generate revenue for the city... each traffic officer brings in $110,000 per year" Where does the $110,000 factor in? Back when there was 260 officers my calculator says that was 28.6 million dollars. Now its 13.64 million.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:10 a.m.

Why are we buying anyone out? Fire them, and it would have been a $10 million savings... Taxpayers are not here to provide unlimited funds. If we couldn't afford the staff, we certainly can't afford to buy them out. Regardless, I wouldn't expect anything but the above statements from the chief. That is his job. It is our job and council's to ensure we are provided a quality service that we can afford - and one that is necessary. Speed traps, and the community standards groups mentioned are excessive luxuries that I don't expect to be part of our daily police operations. Get them on bikes, riding around the neighbordhoods with a core response team for emergencies. Why does every police officer need so much technology and a car? How is that helping stop robberies or break ins or assaults? Technology at the police officer level doesn't stop crimes - it is merely an interesting way to gather information.

DaLast word

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

The citizens MUST stand together on this and demand NO NEW TAXES. This will never stop. Like giving a bottle of gin to a drunk.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

When I was hired by AAPD in 1967, the University of Michigan contributed 13% of the total budget of the police and fire departments annually. Obviously, someone recognized that the presence of the entire University population, both on and off campus, created huge demands on Public Safety for the City. As the budgets increased, so did the UM contribution. I don't recall exactly when Lansing decided to eliminate this very equitable subsidy for our Public Safety, but, when they did, fiscal problems for Ann Arbor were inevitable. Although UM has their own PD, they have no jurisdiction off campus, where the bulk of calls for police service originate. Plus, UM relies TOTALLY on the City for Fire protection (read the Hospital complex, dormitories, etc.) cost free. I can't envision a solution to the problems the City has experienced for years, especially as they relate to Public Safety staffing and budgets, without the University returning to some form of financial support as was the case in the past.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

5.2 Millon deficit to the general fund, Jones states he's made a savings of 3.8 Millon. But let's not forget the $7 millon that was paid out from the general fund to buy out the cops. The city really likes to just gloss over that number.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

I love the way the AA city council spends it time writing laws about "Texting while driving" instead of working on a budget to protect and serve. Do we really need the "large size" for a city government?


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

Ann Arbor cops solve crimes? I thought they set up speed traps and handed out MIPs?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 8:25 a.m.

While I don't suggest we cut any more from the police department I would ask the chief how you managed to assign 7, yes, SEVEN patrol cars to run a speed trap on Huron Parkway north of Washtenaw on at least one occasion in the not to distant past?

Carol C

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 7:56 a.m.

The Community Standards Dept should be eliminated, thus saving thousands and thousands of dollars in payroll, benefits, insurance,automobiles, hand-held computers, uniforms and all the other costs. Outsource the parking enforcement and let the police do more of the resident complaint ticket writing. By eliminating the Comm Stds Dept we would save all the automobiles, maintenance,administrative costs, and utilities costs. Then add one or two people to the police dept to do the animal control, resident complaints, etc. It would be advantageous to have a couple of junior officers do that and they could also be on call for other police issues and temporary assignments. It seems like there is a whole lot of talk and no action going on. Its time for some backbone, do what needs to be done so Ann Arbor doesn't end up completely bankrupt because you are all afraid of ruffling feathers and making a decision.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

Hmmm. While I value crime stopping, does Ann Arbor really need to post police officers on State Street by the car dealers on early Sunday mornings,when traffic is extremely light, to enforce the very low 35 MPH speed limit? Now if they ticketed UM students who step in front of cars mid-block at night, with their heads turned away from traffic, that would be something of value, contributing to public safety. Or wait on Division or 5th St to ticket drivers who turn left from the far right lane or turn right from the far left lane. But the Ann Arbor Police never do. I certainly hope that they do not reduce the police presence around South University from 10 PM to 3 AM.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

Hey Everybody - let's buy up some 'Green space' outside the city so when we drive into town we can stare at corn fields. It would only cost 5-10 Million dollars per 'space'. - Then we can buy trips for Council to one of our 5,000,000 "Sister Cites". - And after that, we can hire a consultant for $X00,000 to tell us what a (enter city project here) would cost. - Lastly, we should raise taxes because everyone has toooo much money as it is - with all those foreclosures and bankruptcies and unemployment.;0


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 7:36 a.m.

Sorry, too bad, does the city still pay room and board for all the homeless residents of the old YMCA?


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

First of all increasing revenue is not an option! Ann Arbor has one of the highest tax rates in the state if not the country. The mayor and council need to live within their means. That is why they were elected. If they cannot do so then they should resign. The mayors art project could have saved how many police jobs? I would suggest you cancel it and hire a local artist at a reasonable price and save a few police jobs. As for the community standards division, that is a joke. I was recently threatened with a ticket even though we had shoveled our sidewalk and the snow had melted. In the meantime I have 2 neighbors who have not shoveled their sidewalk since the last snow and were apparently never ticketed even though I called to complain that this was unfair. The same neighbor let his apples rot in his yard all summer and his fence is a mess. The community standards division would do nothing even when I complained that they were drawing racoons and rats to the subdivision. To say nothing of the monstrosity of a playhouse they have outside my kitchen window that looks like a giant piece of junk. The council and the police department just don't get it. Maybe if there was some enforcement of "community standards" that improved the quality of life of residents and protected our property values the public might be more supportive. Instead it is used to raise more revenue by harassing citizens who have already been taxed to death. I suggest they get rid of the whole community standards department and bring back the animal control officer and stop letting the dog owners and the people who trash their yards run this town. Perhaps the police chief could right an article about just what the community standards department does so people can make an informed decision about them.


Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 6:46 a.m.

Hey Chief, sorry about cutting policing staff but if you need an money losing golf course for the last decade, the City Council will be more than willing to budget the funds for you.