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Posted on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

New audit report: City of Ann Arbor finishes last budget year with $950K surplus in general fund

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor was planning to dip $1.5 million into its general fund cash reserves to get through the last budget year, but it ended up finishing with a surplus instead.

The city's newly released audit for 2010-11 shows general fund expenditures totaled $75.8 million while revenue came in at $76.7 million.

That's a surplus of $949,557, and $127,667 was put into the fund balance.

"The city's general fund (cash reserves) increased by $127,000, and that's significant because the budget had planned on a use of fund balance," City Administrator Steve Powers reported to members of the Ann Arbor City Council this week.


City Administrator Steve Powers is happy with the city's latest audit, which shows the city had a surplus during fiscal year 2010-11.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"So it's $1.6 million better than budget," said Council Member Jane Lumm, an Independent who represents the 2nd Ward. "Way to go."

The 157-page audit shows general fund property tax revenues came in $83,918 higher than expected for the year that ended June 30.

But the major budget gains didn't come on the revenue side.

The city actually took in $2.26 million less in general fund revenue than it planned. The audit shows a line item labeled "miscellaneous" revenue came up significantly shorter than expected, with an actual total of $835,982 when $3.6 million was budgeted.

City officials couldn't be reached to explain that shortfall or why the city spent $2.35 million less than budgeted in the general fund.

More than $612,000 of the savings on the expenditure side — meaning spending was less than budget — came from parks and recreation, more than $350,000 was in the police department, nearly $480,000 was in the building department, more than $122,000 was in community development, and about $14,000 was in the fire department.

Alan Panter, a certified public accountant from Abraham & Gaffney P.C., offered an overview of the audit during a recent council audit committee meeting. No one specific reason caused the increase to fund balance, according to minutes from that meeting.

The city's assets exceeded liabilities by $993.8 million at the close of the fiscal year, according to the audit, which notes the city had $72 million in unrestricted assets as of June 30 that could be used to meet the city's ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.

The general fund had a $13.6 million fund balance and the street millage fund had a $29.2 million fund balance at the end of the year.

Total property tax revenues came in at $78.6 million, which was down $3.4 million — or 4.2 percent — from $82.1 million the year before, though mostly on par with projections.

The audit examines the city's governmental and business-type activities separately.

The latter includes areas such as water, sewer, and solid waste, as well as the city's airport and golf courses, while governmental activities include areas such as public safety, public works, community and economic development, parks and pubic transit.

Large surpluses were reported in the city's business-type activities.

The water supply system had $21.2 million in revenue from charges for service, while expenses totaled $17.3 million.

The sewage disposal system had $21.7 million in revenue and $14.4 million in expenses. The stormwater system had $7.5 million in revenue and $3.9 million in expenses.

Meanwhile, the city's airport had $847,728 in revenue and expenses of $744,629 for a surplus of $103,099.

However, a large deficit was reported in solid waste, where revenues are shown at $3.1 million while expenses totaled $13.7 million.

The city's golf courses had operating revenues of $1.17 million and expenses of $1.65 million for a deficit of nearly $480,000.

Overall revenue for governmental activities and business-type activities totaled $190.4 million — up from $184.2 million the year before, mostly due to an increase in charges for services.

Expenses for governmental activities and business-type activities totaled $160.4 million — up from $154.6 million the year before — leaving a total $30 million surplus.

Charges for services in governmental activities increased 18.6 percent compared to nearly flat growth the year before. The audit attributes that partly to an increase in "fines and forfeits for parking revenue."

For business-type activities, revenues increased $4.2 million or 6.2 percent primarily due to increases in charges for solid waste and stormwater services. Part of the solid waste revenue increase came from franchise fees related to commercial recycling.

The audit shows the city had total bonded debt of $231 million, $158.6 million of which is backed by the full faith and credit of the city.

The city's total outstanding debt — reported at $246.8 million — was down by $8.7 million or 3.4 percent from the year before. The city's debt limit is $549.5 million.

Long-term liabilities decreased due to repayment of existing bond issues.

The audit also notes the city's pension system was 88 percent funded as of June 30. The actuarial accrued liability for benefits was $481.3 million, while the actuarial value of assets was $423.7 million, resulting in an unfunded liability of $57.6 million.

Investment income decreased 41.4 percent in 2010-11, after decreasing 45.4 percent the previous year. That's attributed to lower interest rates and lower investable balances.

Expenses for public safety decreased by $960,952 — from $43 million to $42 million — due to decreased wages and benefits resulting from reductions in police and fire staffing.

The next fiscal year for the city begins July 1 and the council is expected to work in the coming months to stave off planned cuts in the police and fire departments.

Lumm asked at this week's council meeting if Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, could offer a forecast for the current fiscal year, which is halfway complete.

"Actually, I'm in the middle of working on that," Crawford said. "We're getting ready for some discussions with council on the budget."

Crawford said the city is "seeing some things come in better than we had originally planned," but he'll have a more detailed report soon.

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.



Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Seems to me the issues with the Fire Department were not of the number of firemen and staffing, but of training, emphasis on response time in particular, and the way time was spent in the afternoons at the stations, and similar issues of health and fitness.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Good! Now, come pick up my Christmas tree


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

We need to take care of those who have the least first - that means re-instating needed funding for food security and for the homeless. Almost 50% of new homeless are families with small children. Re-instating firefighters and police - and funding for the K12 school system, which has had to cut bus transportation this year - is also important, but I would place these more critical needs first.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

Kris, there is nothing wrong with you opening up your home to these families or cooking for them. I strongly encourage that. You could start the privatization trend of homeless shelters for families that would then be inline with the public sector.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Powers may be happy, but their are a lot of citizens who are not. The numbers above are took out of context, and there are much bigger fish here to look at before they can make a fair judgement. Sacrificing our public safety is the big one here. I know I'm not happy with it, and none of my neighbors are happy with it, and none of my friends are happy either. So I see that Steve is one, and he works for the unhappy ones. So what gives??...


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

That's taken

Blue Eyes

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Surprise, surprise - the City always seems to pull a rabbit out after poor mouthing, no wonder the unions don't believe them and don't want to agree to concessions! I also find it interesting that 3 of the 4 departments listied as coming in under budget are from the Community Services area - Building, Community Development, Parks & Recreation. Is this because they over-budgeted to begin with (at the expense of public safety) or because they don't know how to budget? Either way - not a good appearance.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

SOOOOO....The dirty truth comes out finally.

Elizabeth Jahn

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 6 p.m.

"Expenses for public safety decreased by $960,952 — from $43 million to $42 million — due to decreased wages and benefits resulting from reductions in police and fire staffing." These cuts need to be re-evaluated. Public safety MUST be a priority.

Dithering Ninny

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5 p.m.

"...if I had a million dollars, (If I had a million dollars), I'd buy you some art, (A Picasso or a Garfunkel) If I had a million dollars, We wouldn't have to walk to the store If I had a million dollars, We'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more If I had a million dollars I'd be rich" I wonder if a tax refund, parking fee increase reconsidered, or something prudent like debt reduction is even going to be considered.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

a grand total of 30 million extra and you have the audacity to whine that you need federal grants to put your Stadium bridge in at a price that should allow a expansion bridge from Main to Packard. Way to go!!!!!!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

That's great for the city, finally they stayed within budget. But they'll screw it up next year with budget increases. Instead of basic improvements they will come up with another pet project to waste the money. The city doesnt need more services, it needs better service. Find a street to fix, start replacing water and sewer, or replace any infastructure before its unsafe. Spending local money on unnecessary items while you wait for state and federal money is unacceptable(aka stadium bridge x dingle with a hammer for a photo op). Does any elected official understand what a dollar is, its not a peice of paper with a number on it. Most people work for their money, its not given to them.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Where would you have pulled the $24,000,000 needed for the stadium bridge reconstruction?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

I find it interesting that the article doesn't really talk about the financial status as a whole for Ann Arbor. There should be more detailed reporting of the yearly net profit, the cash on hand, and the total debt obligations. Thanks to Stephen Ranzini, this information has been identified from the annual report.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Ranzini for mayor!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Hey - that's my line!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

I have to wonder what would make The Whiners happy? They complain when the city is over budget, now they complain when the city is showing a surplus. "Large surpluses were reported in the city's business-type activities." - Is this the "communist" city government? As out more conservative friends like to remind us, don't let the door hit you on the way out of town if you are unhappy here. Or does that only apply if The State is going to mandate recitation of socialist written pledges?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

The State would not mandate recitation of the Pledge, it would be up to Legislators to vote...duly elected.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Of note in the audited annual report, the city has a total of $207 million of cash and short term investments, of which $134 million is in the "government activities" separate account ("bucket") where the general fund bucket is included and $73 million is in the government enterprise bucket, which includes all the businesses the city owns (sewer, water, waste, etc.). See page 21. The city's total debt (both long term and short term) is now $306.5 million. See page 22. This sum does not include the pension fund deficit mentioned in the article, which is $57.6 million. See page 79. Of note, the article does not mention the healthcare retirement fund liability, which is another debt, and is $170 million. See "UAAL" on page 77. The sum of all debt is therefore $534.1 million.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

You probably noticed the VEBA liability numbers showing the $170M, which we've reported on in the past, are from June 30, 2010. I'm waiting for the new actuarial report to come out on that.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Lumm asked at this week's council meeting if Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, could offer a forecast for the current fiscal year, which is halfway complete. "Actually, I'm in the middle of working on that," Crawford said. "We're getting ready for some discussions with council on the budget." Lumm, you mean you asked if Crawford could lie to everyone again and yell, "THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!" Every year it's the same old game. We're running out of money, our costs are too high, we need to lay off more public safety to make the difference. Then when they have to report on the actual numbers... hey let's pat ourselves on the back. We were sitting pretty all along. Fraser's out... that's a plus. Rapundalo's out, another plus. Got a long way to go though.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Ok, well, you decide when it's convenient for you to close your eyes to those that try to present you the facts. I don't live here. I work here. Most importantly, the bad decisions of city council directly impact my ability to do my job, which directly impacts the residents of this city during their darkest hours. And BTW, those of us that work in the city have a better understanding that 99% of those that live in the city of what council does and the finances of the city. One other question, using your logic... If I show up at your house, would you 'respect my opinion' on how to treat you for a heart attack or your house burning even though I haven't had it happen to me? Nope I don't live here, but I'd bet paychecks that when it comes to understanding the finances of this city I could educate you on MANY things. Then again, I don't live here, so why respect the facts I have?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

BnR, I only asked if you live here. If you don't thats fine. But here is my angle... When it comes to discussing city finances everyone can have an opinion but the level to which I respect peoples opinions on city finance would be.. 1. folks who live AND work in the city. 2. folks who live in the city. (through property taxes they contribute to the city revenue. Even renters as the taxes are rolled in to the rent as a business expense) 3. folks who work here but live elsewhere. They at least come in to the city every day. 4. Folks who neither work nor live here.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Get rid of the council members:)


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

He likes to push your buttons. It's easy. But you know, and so does he, that the handling of these funds affect not only those who live in Ann Arbor, but those who work in Ann Arbor, as well. You make a good point - there is potential for Ann Arbor to have a more stable housing (and hence property tax revenue) situation by ensuring that those who want to live here feel confident about being able to keep their jobs here. The city management can play a role in that.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

Let me explain this to you again Craig. No. 4 years ago when I applied here I owned a house north of the city. Every year since I've been here I've gotten a lay off letter. So, would you like me to sell my home in the worse housing economy to come live in a city that plays games with peoples lives like this? Other that furthering your own issue, what does your question possibly have to do with the above comment?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

do you live in the city?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

All of this talk about the Governor slashing city budgets sounds like a bunch of hog wash!. The city can cut expenses without a lot of pain. Please cut some more!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.


Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

In light of the fact that the city's general fund has a surplus, I'll repeat my list of top 5 priorities that the city leaders should address in 2012: 1) Ann Arbor is not meeting national standards for fire safety. This will raise our fire insurance rates & cause more unnecessary loss of life. The current budget for 2012 anticipates even further cuts to the fire department personnel. This must be stopped & adequate staffing provided once again to keep the citizens & their properties safe! 2) The current budget for 2012 anticipates even further cuts to the police department. Ann Arbor already has an inadequate number of cars on patrol at any one time (if I recall correctly only 5 at any one time city wide) & we need to reinstate daily downtown foot patrol beat cops. While the new city manager, Steve Powers, promises to revise the budget and solve this problem, we must insure that this happens, because with inaction, a further round of CUTS is already baked in! 3) Ann Arbor's roads are a mess & are rated among the worst in the state. The funds are available from the street millage to repair them instead of accumulating over $29 million in the road millage separate account. Get on with it already! 4) The Fuller Road project ought to go to a vote of the citizens because no one can assert with a straight face that they will spend $121 million building in it & that it will ever be parkland again! Personally I support the project in concept but NOT if the voters don't approve it first. If it's a project with merit, sell the citizens on that & if you can't convince the citizens, respect the democratic process and move on to other topics. 5) Repeal the current pedestrian crosswalk ordinance & replace it with one that conforms exactly to what the signs say, "stop for pedestrian in crosswalk.". We are putting people at risk of serious injury by having an ordnance different than the model state law.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:08 a.m.

@Cici: the Ann Arbor Police Department eliminated the downtown foot patrols and over the Summer, added back some occasional, but not daily foot patrols. As noted by many downtown residents (including me - I live downtown), the perception of safety downtown has deteriorated over the past few years and outside of the string of sexual assaults, there is a lot of aggressive panhandling, drug dealing and graffiti in the downtown core all of which could be better controlled by daily foot patrols. Every morning they should be checking in to see who is new at the Delonis homeless shelter and to learn what happened overnight or if there are people who need intervention. As to police setting up speed traps and writing tickets, I'm not talking about that at all. Writing parking tickets is done by the parking enforcement group and if you want my opinion on that, we already have enough of that.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

You mention an inadequacy in foot patrols downtown. Where and when? Now is this also part of enforcing the high parking fees and meeting a daily quota of such?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:03 a.m.

@ Mr. Ranzini: I read it as data collected over a two year period (07-08) and published in 09. Certainly some roads have deteriorated further (W. Miller comes to mind), but there have also been some major improvements since the data was collected (W. Stadium, Plymouth, Geddes, Miller to name a few).

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

Mr. Ranzini, I've said this to you before, but I am sincere in the sentiment: We need you to run for mayor. I think you'd do an amazing job. I would not hesitate to vote for you.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

@tegel: while you are technically correct in what you say about the age of the data I am using, I am citing the most recent three years of data available. In case you haven't noticed the condition of the roads have since deteriorated as the city accumulated money in the road millage separate account as their contingency plan for rebuilding the Stadium Bridges. During that time road repair has been even less than usual.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

@ Mr. Ranzini: "Ann Arbor for the past three years has had the third highest number of miles of roads in "poor" or worse condition of any city in Michigan" "For the past three years" is a bit misleading, is it not? The MITA press release you cited was from 2009 and included the following footnote: "1. Rating information is primarily calculated from data submitted to the MI Asset Management Council in 2008. For road segments that did not get rated in 2008 (approximately 65 percent of the system was rated in 2008 vs. 100 percent in 2007), the 2007 rating was used in order to get a 100 percent sample that would reflect the entire road network." I'm not saying the roads are good by any means, but the data is also 3-4 years old. I appreciate your efforts to clarify things, but please be a bit more careful when citing sources.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Tax the college

John Q

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

"Ann Arbor for the past three years has had the third highest number of miles of roads in "poor" or worse condition of any city in Michigan." Federal-Aid eligible roads don't make up the majority of streets in Ann Arbor. Some of these roads aren't even under the jurisdiction of the city. Is the city supposed to divert funds from fixing neighborhood streets to spend on roads that aren't even under the city's jurisdiction?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Stephen, that was awfully nice of you to reply to John Q with those citations. My reply would've been "I drive on them. Do you?" But really... whether or not we rank at or near the worst roads in the state, all you must do is drive on them to know they are terrible. This is not rocket science. If Ann Arbor wishes to continue being a first-rate place to live, FIX THE ROADS.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I have been asking for at least a year for Ranzini to run for mayor. I am glad that he is giving some kind of political role thoughtful consideration. It would entail a lot of work, especially to do it well. And, I suspect that if he does move forward in that direction, he would not do so unless he was confident that he could do it well. I hope that he will choose to represent us in some way. We really need him.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

@John Q: According to the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, based on an analysis of data submitted by municipalities to the Michigan Asset Management Council, Ann Arbor for the past three years has had the third highest number of miles of roads in &quot;poor&quot; or worse condition of any city in Michigan. See: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;mid=473&amp;newsid473=13</a> Here is a sample of articles in local media on the topic: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Dear @Brad &amp; @Bill: thanks very much for your very kind remarks. They are truly much appreciated. To date I've defined my role in the political sphere as providing advice publicly and behind the scenes, since actually being in political office is a lot of work, hard on a family, and often a thankless task, and I give kudos to those willing to do it. If you really, really ARE serious about wanting me to run for political office please email me at and tell me how you would be able to help. A lot of people would have to do so to make me consider it seriously. Running for political office is a big step not lightly taken. Many supporters are required to do the work necessary, and *anonymous* supporters aren't too helpful in that ;-)

John Q

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

&quot;3) Ann Arbor's roads are a mess &amp; are rated among the worst in the state.&quot; Still repeating this claim without documentation?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Your points are well thought out and well articulated. I would agree with Brad that you should consider running for the council or perhaps for mayor. Ann Arbor has such great potential but unfortunately it is wasted by a council focused on what appears to be an attempt for them to make a name for themselves. If the council doesn't work wih the fire department to address and correct point #1, then both the council and fire chief should be removed. Public safety must be the top priority and come before all other interests. I'm sure given adequate funding and resources the fire chief would be able to develop a plan that would allow Ann Arbor to exceed national standards and become an example for excellence. Point 2 is again about public safety and needs to top consideration and priority the same as Point 1. Point 3, well what can one say, the roads in Ann Arbor are simply BAD. Letting the citizens decide on Fuller Road is the right way to go for this and any other large scale project. The pedestrian ordiance should have never happened. The council apparently envisions themselves as experienced lawmakers capable of drafting such ordinances. Well, this ordiance proves the council has no business trying to create such ordiances. Why should Ann Arbor have different regulations than the rest of the state? It would also be interesting to have the budget buckets reviewed at the end of each year and all excess, other than those which are associated with long term capital expenditures, returned to the general fund. Hopefully when a few more current council members are replaced the buckets can be removed entirely.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

We here in the 4th ward could really use you representing us on council. Between the one that thinks 1% isn't enough for art and the other that can't always seem to find the time to show up we're pretty sadly represented.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Now fix the roads!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

AND you laid off police officers! You scum bags.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

they obvioulsy don't need any more money and shouldn't talk about increased taxes. I think they should sell the golf courses to a private entity. Without government involvement they should still be able to operate near the same fees for users without the bloated pay packages of city employees.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Not too surprising when the city counsel have raised taxes by the absolute maximum they can get away with for many years. Other municipalities have lowered taxes recently in response to deflating house values and miserable employment prospects. And in spite of their massive increases, we are being told that normal services will not be provided. Personally I would rather have leaf pickup, police, firefighters, and road/bridge maintainence than artwork any day.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

Can you tell us what municipalities have lowered taxes recently?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

And collecting interest


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

On the one hand, we could say 'atta-boy' to the Council for keeping costs in line. On the other hand, the real questions here are: 1) How much of our money does the City collect? 2) What do they do with that money? The answers are a little ugly. Mr. Ranzini is correct -- the headline is misleading. $950k surplus in a general fund is notable, but it does not speak to the big picture. That money (however much I'd like to have a tax rebate) should probably be applied to the rainy day fund. Is that the result of good fiscal management? &quot;The audit shows a line item labeled &quot;miscellaneous&quot; revenue came up significantly shorter than expected, with an actual total of $835,982 when $3.6 million was budgeted. City officials couldn't be reached to explain that shortfall or why the city spent $2.35 million less than budgeted in the general fund.&quot; &quot;Miscellaneous&quot; is a dangerous term always. It's a good catch-all for the small stuff you don't want to talk about. But when the guess -- made by professionals -- was off by 400+%, something is probably wrong. When officials can't explain -- don't know -- why a guess they made was wrong by 400%, something is certainly wrong. Even the general fund surplus appears to be the result of good luck. And apparently it is better to be lucky than good.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

I thought being that far off for a &quot;miscellaneous&quot; account was high and really weird. You would expect small amounts, amounts that could not be categorized elsewhere, to be placed in a &quot;miscellaneous&quot; account, wouldn't you? If any of the amounts were that significant, wouldn't they have their own specific named account?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

My error: Not don't know -- can't be reached to explain -- which might mean don't know, and might mean not answering the phone. Still, it is an area for additional investigation: the explanation is very important.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Ann Arboreal residents should be concerned with the surplus returned to fund balance in the water, sewer and storm funds. These are funded by rates and the excess indicates you're being over-charged for these services.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Why couldn't they fix West Park problems immediately with that money?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Some is set aside for capital improvements but large capital improvements are planned for years before they are actually started so that funds can be saved slowly over time. Such as the large capital investment at the sewer plant...millions were saved up over time. With rates, unless they go down, the city will continue to collect the same amount of revenue each year. If expenses don't go up, more and more will be added to fund balance. They also need to look at the cost of getting low interest loans from the government vs. using rates to fund all capital improvements. The numbers quoted here are jude returns to fund balance for this fiscal year...what's already there?


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

it would be interesting to know how much of that is set aside for improvements. I assume some of my share goes towards a fund for an upkeep to the system. If that surplus is different than that I want a check cut and mailed to me.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Im looking forward to reading Alan Goldsmith's post giving the mayor a complement and credit for the positive variance to the budget.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Hah! Me too!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Hey... that's NOT the City of Ann Arbor's money. It's the taxpayer's money. Clearly, the City is over taxing and has been collecting too much. Make Ann Arbor more competitive. Let's hear it for a tax reduction and taxpayer refund... eh? Cheers...

hut hut

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

What do you mean when you write &quot;Make Ann Arbor more competitive&quot; Compete on what basis? With whom? Do you mean more competitive with the tax rate of a township in the UP or more competitive on quality of life with that same township. Maybe a competitive comparison with Detroit? &quot;Competitive&quot; is just an overused buzzword that means a race to the bottom in wages, quality of life, etc.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I would choose a high tax area with good infrastructure and public service over a low tax area with bad infrastructure and public service any day.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

The way it's supposed to work is that the City and it's elected representatives are responsible to the community as a whole. The surplus money should be put into making the community a better place for the citizens. If anyone thinks improvements are not needed, I can point out a few areas for you.

Steve Sommers

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

So we were expecting 1.5 million in the red and end up $960,000 in the black. How do you miss the mark by $2.5 million??? This was a made up budget crisis to get concessions from the unions. I am guessing afscme and the police are kicking themselves now. What a scam!!!

Steve Sommers

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:31 a.m.

Well, They laid off 4 police and tell them they cant afford them anymore. Tell the other cops that they have to take MAJOR concessions or else they will lose more in layoffs. They force 8 into retirement. Then all this comes out. Their cards have been shown. The firefighters have good reason not to negotiate with them. I wouldn't sit at the same table as this city management.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

That's what was interesting to me, too . The whole goal last year was to cut 1.5 million - the reason given for diminishing our police and fire protection - and yet we are almost 1 million ahead in the general fund. Interesting.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

The headline of this article is *extremely* misleading and should be immediately corrected. The City of Ann Arbor had a surplus of $29,981,953 in it's 2011 fiscal year ended June 30, 2011, and one of the approx. 56 separate accounts (&quot;buckets&quot;) owned by the city, the general fund, had a surplus of $950,000. All the money in the approx. 56 separate buckets is owned by the city and are part of the annual audited financial statement. See the table on page 14 (&quot;Increase in net assets = profit for the year). Of note, 2010's adjusted annual net income was $29,561,525, so the city's total net income year over year rose about $320,000.

John Q

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

The buckets are not a shell game. Those various funds represent various funding sources that can't be commingled to be spent however someone wants to spend them. The city has a responsibility to track those separately and that's why they are accounted for separately.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Thanks for &quot;doing the math&quot; and summing up the salient points in one paragraph, Mr. Ranzini. And thanks also for your vigilance against mayor/council and their &quot;bucket&quot; (shell) games.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

We've added &quot;in general fund&quot; to the end of the headline for clarification. I think the story explains pretty well that there are more surpluses in other funds and, if you do the math, it adds up to $30M.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

Quick! Let's build another parking structure or at least hire a few more consultants.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

wow, maybe they'll fire some more police and fire dept people and make it a cool mil...


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Hopefully City Council doesn't blow it all on more commissioned art, or on robots that hold pedestrian hands as they cross the street...