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Posted on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:03 a.m.

Proposed cuts to Ann Arbor police and fire draw criticism from union, council candidates

By Ryan J. Stanton

Proposals by Ann Arbor leaders to cut deep into police and fire services to balance the 2010-11 budget are drawing heavy criticisms this week from the firefighters union and a group of candidates running for City Council.

Late Tuesday night, four candidates seeking to oust members of the current Ann Arbor City Council majority released a joint statement opposing the cuts.


File Photo

The four candidates — all Democrats — are Patricia Lesko, who is running for mayor, 1st Ward candidate Sumi Kailasapathy, 4th Ward candidate Jack Eaton and 5th Ward candidate Lou Glorie.

They called the potential cuts in City Administrator Roger Fraser's proposed 2010-11 budget "unnecessary" and a "disservice to taxpayers."

Also on Tuesday, Matt Schroeder, president of the firefighters union, released an open letter to the City Council, arguing Ann Arbor deserves better fire protection.

"As Local 693 has continued to find ways to have input into Mr. Fraser's quest for a regionalized fire service for Washtenaw County, we remain disappointed by the lack of interest by the city administrator for our input into the process," Schroeder wrote. "With proposed cuts to our department being double of other city departments and our ability to provide services proposed to reduce our ability by 22 percent, I challenge you to reconsider cutting the fire department. We were leaders in our attempt to help the city overcome its financial struggles by taking a 3 percent cut and contributing more to our pension. We have been committed to the safety of our citizens to include the students of our university. We are truly lean and fiscally responsible."

Schroeder urged council members to ask questions of the administrator, the fire chief and the union. He said he's been directly impacted on a personal level by the most recent fire fatality in the city and knows from a professional perspective what it could have been if the fire department had already been cut by then.

"This is an emergency, please do not allow this core service to be politicized," Schroeder wrote. "The citizens deserve your leadership on this issue. Their safety is at stake."

Schroeder directed council members to read a recent Detroit Free Press article that reported frustration is growing over how some communities in Southeast Michigan are responding to their mutual aid agreements for fire protection, and fire aid pacts aren't holding up.

Fraser and his staff have worked in the last several months to close an additional $5.2 million gap in the city's budget. Those cuts impact public safety more than any other area. 

Fraser acknowledges it hasn't been easy to put together the budget this year, but millions needed to be cut and public safety makes up half the city's general fund. The job eliminations in the police department are expected to save $1.6 million, while those in the fire department will save $2 million. Another $270,000 in savings is expected from a reduction in police vehicles.

"This proposal has been difficult to prepare in light of the hard choices that need to be made in order to present a balanced plan," Fraser told the mayor and council in his budget memo.

"It is tedious and painful work to prepare a budget when the economic times are so very bleak, as now. We know that our job is to serve the citizens of Ann Arbor in the very best way possible with the money we have available. Getting to consensus around an expenditure plan is more difficult than ever when the choices look and feel draconian."

Unless the City Council rejects Fraser's plan, 20 positions in the fire department and 20 in the police department will be eliminated in July.

The four challengers running for council argue in their joint statement that the cuts will take the number of sworn officers down from 99 to 87, which they say is too deep a cut when Ann Arbor already has as few as six police officers on patrol at any given time.

“Cutting emergency services has become business as usual when closing these alleged budget gaps," Lesko said. "In all the budgets the administrator has presented to council since 2003, he has inaccurately projected deficits. In 2009, Mr. Fraser’s general fund budget projections were off by over $2 million. Ann Arbor’s general fund ended up with $2 million more than his budget projected it would.

"Mayor and council have the money to fund police and fire. All they need to do is to direct the city administrator to rein in overhead— start with the $1,000 oil changes charged by the city’s fleet department to our fire department, and the $50 wiper blade replacements charged by the fleet department to our police department. The city’s fleet department has accumulated a $10 million cash surplus, part of which should be returned to the general fund to fund police and fire services.”

Eaton, a labor lawyer with experience negotiating union contracts, said he questions the motivations behind the proposed cuts.

"Our city needs to partner with our unionized employees to realize all possible savings," he said. "This latest threat of job loss is a poorly disguised attempt to coerce further concessions from those unions. Good faith bargaining requires honesty and mutual trust. This bullying is disrespectful to our public employees and ultimately does a disservice to taxpayers who pay the bills.”

Lesko, Kailasapathy, Eaton and Glorie pledged that should Fraser's proposed 2010-11 police and fire budget cuts be enacted, if elected, they will co-sponsor a resolution to re-open the budget and direct the administrator to reverse the cuts.

Glorie said fire and safety services are indispensable. She also thinks proposed water and sewer rate increases can be avoided.

"I suggest the city release the surpluses in the IT, solid waste and fleet funds immediately to pay for essential services and prevent an escalation of water and sewer rates into the exosphere," she said. "And while we’re at it, let’s stop the borrowing. Our city’s CFO brags about the city’s AA+ credit rating from Standard and Poor’s. Since the bond rating industry gave top grades to subprime derivatives, this does not reassure."

Kailasapathy, a certified public accountant, said she has analyzed the city's budget and thinks there's enough money to maintain police and fire services at current levels.

“Our primary goal should be to provide basic services such as fire and police services to our constituents," she said. "Ann Arbor City Council needs to move away from a culture of anecdote-based budgeting and indulging in spending sprees, to a more objective method of budgeting that is grounded in numbers that ensure human safety and well-being.”

Lesko, Kailasapathy, Eaton and Glorie have announced they will be hosting a meet and greet event at Vinology on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor from 5-7 p.m. Sunday.

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



Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

@Me Next The problem is that citizens either forget, don't know, or are steered away from knowing that there are other costs associated with hourly labor costs, and those costs are for benefits and to pay pension costs of already retired city workers. Costs charged per hour of service do not add up to take home salary of the employee providing that service. If it did, a fleet working whose time is charged at $180/hr (number quoted by Pat Lesko via chief Lanza) would gross $374,400 per year.

Me Next

Sat, Apr 17, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

It's so easy to get lost in all the particulars. Overall citizens are on to the ploy to protect problems for the excuse of more taxes needed. Citizens are making a stand & refocusing the common service issues debate. Cost-value accountability, fiscal responsibility, & funding of essentials & basic services first. Localities grant Rep form of governing for specific purposes. The priority is Protection - that's essential. It should not be abused by anyone. These Servants are healthier than most in the general population. Their health is at risk because of the service they provide. Public Pensions & Assistance (to many to discuss here)are justified according to what they give. Administration & services that any citizen (relatively) could do are citizens that can provide by their salaries the same as the average citizen. Salaries should not exceed the average citizens'. Reasonable pricing falls on the governor & mayors to solicit competitors when a business believes they can monopolize an accessory service for a state or locality. Not outsourcing but bringing in or finding within a remedy. Citizens make cost-value decisions all the time & governments need to realize after reasonable taxes our private property is off limits. This ploy, widely used needs a confronting & no squirming or changing the subject. It won't be easy, but it's worth doing.


Sat, Apr 17, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

I too am irritated... if your secretarial job for Fraser was in jeopardy you would want answers about wasteful spending that not only can but should be controlled. The city yard should not be able to charge anything for city vehicles. If it needs to be done and the city says that they must do the work... well, do it, it's your job!!! They get plenty of pay to work on fleet vehicles big and small and the labor rate is moot. Make the fleet supervisors track the time and tools used for reporting purposes. Charge the departments for the parts, cost plus shipping, and provide detailed reports on the city network server. That way all of the taxpayers can see what the books look like and the department heads can manage their budgets accordingly. If nothing is being fixed, they still get paid for their time on the clock don't they? Hmmm, just like firemen waiting for a 911 call to the police station.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

Misquoting me again? Some things never change. The point of the topic is why are we spending so much money, and such an inflated price, to internal organizations when ALL those that are paying into it are being told to reduce their budgets. Ok, let's stop paying these ridiculous prices that we have no say. I never said it was there all for the firefighters. But thank you for once again misquoting me.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

@Awakened You make a good point about the FF knowingly taking cuts for temporary fixes and in turn opening themselves up for future attacks. You also make a valid point about there union leadership dodging there role in this horrible decision to take pay cuts. @Karen Sydney Cudos to you for putting the facts out there about the Fleet services fund. I wonder now what Ms. Lesko and her friend BornN Raised have to say? The two of them seem to think there is 10 million dollars sitting out there ready to be handed out to the FF's

Karen Sidney

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

The fleet fund is not part of the general fund. It is an internal service fund. The city has 7 internal service funds. Financial data on these funds is reported in the FY09 city audit starting on page 113 of the hard copy. The fleet fund reports $10,295,464 in net assets (bottom of page 113). Net assets is another name for fund balance. The fleet fund reported $6,973,379 in revenues in FY09. The FY09 trial balance shows the source of the revenue. Most of the revenue came from 3 funds. $2,494,837 came from the general fund. $2,229,334 came from the solid waste fund. Page 146 of the audit says the city had 18 refuse trucks in FY09. $1,259,852 came from the streets (maintenance) fund, which is funded with gas and weight tax money from the state. If you want to see long term personnel trends, go to page 144 of the audit. When evaluating employment trends, note that the figures reported are for permanent city employees with benefits. They do not include temporary workers who do many jobs like staffing recreation facilities.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

As a life long union member I would like to address the Firefighters and any other city union members. At the time AAFD settled the 6 month contract I was amazed that any union member would vote for it. I am still amazed that the focus of anger is on Fraser and not your Union leadership. Fraser overcharges police and fire with fees to other city departments so as to make their costs look inflated. Then he threatens to lay them off. Threatens the Union and the citizens. A business couldn't do this because it wouldn't have the margin or concealed books to be able to do so. A government can. After all the taxes won't stop however shadily they manage. When you CHOSE to make a permanent concession for a temporary reprieve from layoffs you GUARANTEED that they would threaten them again. Mangement will never give you more than the letter of the contract. THE best you can ever hope for is that they will follow the contract without too many violations. You have traded the future of every member of your unit for a few months safety for a few. They will always want more. Huge mistake! You need to (if you haven't) design a package that reduces the City's cost but provides significant guarantees for your membership against future over-reaching. A change to future defined contributions would take the pension threats away form the City. A simple change of the law in Lansing would allow them to raid the fund. My advice to the police union. No concessions;take the layoffs. My advice to the citizens. Make a change before this gets more out of hand. The city is spinning you about the need for these layoffs. My prediction: After the layoffs/concessions Fraser will find money to make everything okay and even have a surplus. Viola! He's the hero!


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

@BornNRaised I disagree with your comment 'Either they need to have the spines to make decisions, or get out of the way and let people willing to listen to the residents step in.' It is all well and good if residents desires are based on a firm knowledge of what is needed to make the City work. The reason council members are elected is so that they dig into the details and, hopefully, make decisions based on what is needed. The place it takes a spine to act is telling residents 'No, that doesn't make sense and here is why', and sticking with it rather than pandering to people who shout the loudest.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

A couple of comments were removed because they contained personal attacks against another commenter. Please keep the conversation civil and on topic.

haulin donkey

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 12:36 a.m.

I forgot to inclued one more fact. At a 28% markup the price charged for parts is still far cheaper than most people would pay at a discount parts store. with volume comes a huge discount. One realy needs to dig deep with budget numbers befor forming an opionion. Things are not always as they appear.

haulin donkey

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 12:18 a.m.

As for the $1000.00 oil change, there is much more to servicing a fire truck than just oil and grease. the trucks are also inspected including brakes, steering, lights, saftey equipment, etc. This takes more time and skill than the average grease monkey can handle. As for the $50.00 windshield wiper, that was damage from an arrest, not just a blade change. Fleet does not charge labor for blade changes in most cases. as for the $180.00 hr., that is just a shell game between departments.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 10:56 p.m.

"A reduction in safety personnel means a reduction in safety." Really? Are there benchmarks floating around on this? These scare tactics are so Cheney-esque. There was a minor fire in my neighborhood last year where EIGHT trucks showed up, including from the township. On the other hand, people died in a fire several months ago because they couldn't find the fire. How are we doing? Re Frasier, unless this is a political ritual where he knowingly takes an extreme position to let council people "save the day," where do these "challengers" get off thinking they know more than he does? It's his job. Heaven forbid these hacks who think we can oil change our way out of a budget crisis get any voice on council. Still waiting for something more substantial than the tired old Republican mantra of "STOP THE WASTE!" We know they don't want to grow the tax base, so what are the proposals, Party of No?


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

It's really unfortunate that these political wanna bees have stirred up this hornets nest. They have teamed up with the FF's and began a witch hunt. No one knows the cities budget better than those dealing with it on a daily basis ( ie Mr. Fraser,the CFO, and the current political leaders) the rest of you are just speculating. It easy to sit on the outside and bash those trying to do the best they can with what they have. Where was Pat Lesko's support of Fire and Police before she decided to run for Mayor? I hope the other unions in the city realize that if Ms. Lesko wants to maintain the current staffing levels of safety services there depts are going to be reduced drastically. The money has to come from somewhere!! @Pragmatic you are right the FF's need to stop with the scare tactics. We all know no matter how many FF's the city employs they are going to continue doing what they have been doing for the last 100 years.( Protect Life and Property). According to BornNRaised the Fire Dept has been cut by 74% since Mr Fraser came into office, yet they still manage to do there jobs well. This means either they were really fat to began with, they are dam lucky, or they are true professionals who can adapt to any senerio put before them. @Loka your also correct when you say the FF's knew they were only buying 6 months when they took the 3% pay cuts, and according to my sources they knew the next budget year was going to be worse therefore more cuts were possible. @Yourdad According to my sources the FF cuts will not cause a drastic change to any insurances or ISO ratings, because there will be little if any impact on the day to day operations of the fire dept.The layoffs will be divided among 3 shifts and on some days one truck will be shut down due to FF voluntary time off being maxed out.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

rossianroulette is absolutely correct in her opinion of the pension and health care benefits. Both of these types of benefits are driving cities, states into bankruptcy. Health insurance should be a 70/30 split, maybe 80/20. Switching to a defined contribution plan is a slippery slope. Maybe only for brand new employees, but defined benefits plans as done here is too generous. There are issues. Is anybody able to confirm this $10 million pot at fleet services? It does not make sense. Why do they have this $? What are they going to do with it? If it exists and is not spoken for, then I think city would have raided it. I would like an explanation if it does exist, why? It makes no sense one department charges another, especially for labor, profit. I wish someone would explain this stuff.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 9:09 p.m.

Yes!!! replace those current democrats...err with more democrats???? The one-party system is doing wonders for our fair city.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 7:17 p.m.

About time someone saw through Fraser and the current council.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 6:37 p.m.

Lester88.. you nailed it. In fact, they should be enhancing the AAPD health benefits, not asking them to give more up.

Dominick Lanza

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

Again I will say I have a family member thats works at AAFD he said the City Garage charges over $160 per hour labor and over 30% mark up on parts NO garage in town charges that kind of money and we are marking up parts we buy at a discount because we buy so much and profiting from the departments being cut?? Thats why a wipe blade cost $50 I dont know about the oil change it might not be $1000 but its sure gotta be more expensive then Jiffy Lube at those rates Is there really a $10 million dollar surplaus in city fleet if so its a shell game taking from peter to fatten Paul at our expense


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.

Except with a 'junior' member of council asked Fraser what HE should do regarding the budget. Fraser recommends items. It's the job of the council to have the backbone to make decisions that are in the best interests of the residents that live here. Fraser has no vested interest in this city. Council does. Either they need to have the spines to make decisions, or get out of the way and let people willing to listen to the residents step in.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

Another comment about statements made above. "In 2009, Mr. Frasers general fund budget projections were off by over $2 million dollars. Ann Arbors general fund ended up with $2 million dollars more than his budget projected it would." 2 million is about 2% of the $78 million General Fund budget. Being off by 2% is not too bad as far as projections go. The General Fund goes toward many things. Quoting from the proposed city budget, "Expenditures from the General Fund go to services such as public safety (police, fire, and emergency management); recreation programs; development and planning; community development services; the Citys legal and general government administration; housing and human services programs; Fifteenth District Court; and a variety of other services and programs provided by the four main Service Areas." Many things in this pot are targeted in the suggestions from Mr. Fraser but, unfortunately, the place where the most money is spent and the greatest amount can be made up is personnel. If council members have read and familiarized themselves with the proposed budget they should, hopefully, be able to discuss and debate it rationally rather than react to people who are shouting at them armed with numbers taken out of context. It's not a done deal.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

@ rossianroulette You have some valid questions. Why aren't they willing to have the kinds of lowered healthcare benefits (with significant co-pays) and less pricely pension plans (defined contribution, not defined benefit) that the rest of us city taxpayers have? I suggest you ask the police union or the City for a copy of the GZA study on safety issues especially air quality concerns in the Larcom building. The police union has proof that its members have been exposed to high levels of Radon and Asbestos. Maybe can verify this for you. For years, complaints have been made about the air quality in city hall. Police employees have worked in those conditions for decades and now many of the retirees as well as current members suffer from the ill effects of Radon and Asbestos. Those who are not sick are certainly worried about getting sick. Rossian, an admitted taxpayer, you are now responsible for the healthcare of those employees for the rest of their lives. As a matter of fact, you have an obligation. You should be more concerned with holding someone accountable and not blaming the employees. Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer, thats why. This is a fact. In regards to your question on pension costs, you should question the CFO about the feasibility of switching from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. I wont bore the rest of the blogging world on pension plans but there needs to be more understanding on how the system works and who pays for it before you criticize. The employees also fund this plan. For years the City contributed nothing, but the employees did. Your managers should have planned better. David Cahill points out the $17.1 million fiasco. That is a fact. Someone should be held accountable. But nooooo, according to you its the employees fault. Oh boo hoo, I dont get that so nobody else should is a boring and lame argument that is repeatedly put in these blogs. Pro athletes make millions. I wish I did too. Tough, you should have chosen the safe road like these senior public servants did back in the late 80s and quit hating on those who took less over the years to secure their future. The retirement plan cannot be just dissolved without significant financial ramifications. Union-pressured contracts the city can no longer afford. I cant afford to pay my mortgage now. The mortgage company pressured me into the contract and expects me to pay. I signed it, but hey, things are different now and I cant afford it anymore. By the way, Im getting a new car tomorrow. Crazy isnt it? Thats the extent of your argument. The same argument the City loses at arbitrations. This City is not broke; those in control just want to keep their pet projects going. Green things and tree canopy dreams, pie in the sky trains and such. Cities that are broke dont have green belts. The only consistency with this administration is its lack of being held accountable!


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

The cities website states that they currently have an ISO rating of 4. This is the best in the county but would most likely fall with a smaller staff. So yes, your insurance cost would likely go up and your taxes won't be going down anytime soon. There are plenty of nice homes available outside of the city though.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

The cities website states that they currently have an ISO rating of 4. This is the best in the county but would most likely fall with a smaller staff. So yes, your insurance cost would likely go up and your taxes won't be going down anytime soon. There are plenty of nice homes available outside of the city though.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Just want to ask a simple question... if the police and fire departments get these cuts, will my homeowners insurance go even higher? I know my taxes will not drop, so I will in essence be paying more for less service. This doesn't make me feel very good. Less safety workers and more money out of MY pocket... Is there an insurance person that can answer this? May can find out where AAFD and AAPD are currently rated and see where the proposed cuts would put them...? Please


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.

@BornNRaised - For me, it would depend on whether the $70/hr place had everything they needed to do the job and whether it would take me a lot longer to get there and back again. As in how much of someone's time would be taken to get to a different shop and would that seem like a reasonable trade off? It sounds like what is being advocated is privatizing a large number of the currently internally provided services. I am guessing that the people who are in those positions receive salary and benefits, including pension, which is one of the things that makes them so expensive when you cost them out/hr.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3 p.m.

@LBH, I don't believe it's just the oil changes you need to look at on fire trucks. The safety services in general is being slashed because Fraser states there's not enough money in the general fund. However, everyone must keep paying for these 'management services'. I.e. Fleet services, IT, Legal. All which charge twice that of any place else. So, while a person stated earlier that they didn't going to a private entity would save money. It would. When Fleet services charges (steals) from the other groups, it goes into a famous 'bucket'. So not only can that money not be used to help the city, it's also leaving the general fund at an alarming rate. If I told you that you HAD to pay me $180 per hour to work on your car, but you could go down the street and pay $70/hr, what would you do? You'd save money right? The city services have no choice but to pay this outrageous charge.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

Ok, so my follow up question is: How many reduced cost oil changes would need to be performed in order to save one FTE?

David Cahill

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

I'm going to drop another budget shoe. What follows comes from note 17 on page 80 of the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended 6/3/09, available online: "JUDGEMENT PAYABLE "Effective 1998, the City and the VEBA Board of Trustees entered into a funding agreement for the allocation of Retirement System annual excess earning (if any) to payment of City retiree health benefit costs thereby allowing the City to allocate the equivalent budgetary amount to prefund the City's VEBA. This agreement and all transfers were executed in compliance with Michigan Public Act 28 (PA 28). The Pension System's transfer to the VEBA was not fully compliant with Section 420 of the Internal Revenue Code with respect to the transfers to the VEBA. The City filed an application through the Internal Revenue Service Voluntary Correction Program and the IRS determined that $17.1 million dollars of plan assets, incorrectly distributed from the plan, should be returned to the plan, adjusted for income over a five year period beginning in FY09....At the end of this fiscal year the City has repaid the Pension system $5.3 million, and the remaining liability over the next four years is $11.8 million. "IRS REPAYMENT SCHEDULE FY AMOUNT 2010 $3,306,998 2011 3,422,743 2012 3,542,539 2013 1,539,474" End of quote. The City is doing the right thing by repaying the pension system. But these payments add to the City's budget burdens. Making the situation more serious is that these payments are being charged to employee benefits in the various departments of the City. So the benefits in the current fiscal year look more expensive than they really are. Therefore, the police department, the fire department, and other units also look more expensive than they would have been if the City were not repaying the pension system for mistakes made over a decade ago.

Patricia Lesko

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

BornNRaised is correct that Chief Lanza, who is currently combing through his department's budget to find money to save jobs, is the source of the cost of an oil change for one of his trucks. The Chief also is the source of the 28 percent mark-up on parts charged by the Fleet Department to the other Departments in the city. Fleet Department labor, Chief Lanza reported, is charged at just under $180 per hour. The Chief reported that in his previous position, outsourcing truck upkeep and repair was something that had been done to save money. He reported that when he'd mentioned this as a possible money-saving option to the City Administrator, he'd been told that if he [Lanza] found "significant savings" the idea would be "considered." Chief Lanza is confident he can save close to 50 percent on currently charged labor costs by outsourcing upkeep and repairs. The facts and figures are what they are. If they make taxpayers howl, well then, it's an understandable response given the importance of police and fire protection.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

I believe the city has always said they are trying to balance the budget, not put a band aid on things. IF fleet services actually has a 10 million surplus, should they transfer the money over to AAFD? If the AAFD takes out 1.7 this year, won't they need 1.7 next year if no one was let go? Or would it actualy be 1.9 by then becasue of raises and what not? So then the next year 2 million? And after a couple year there's no reserves, and you have no money and have to let the same amount of FF off? I don't know, I'm just wondering out loud.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:05 p.m.

The $1000 number was a number the fire chief threw out while Ms. Lesko was visiting. I don't believe he had the facts on that one, but was just throwing hypothetical numbers out there. The $50 for a wiper blade is correct. The Fleet Services also charges 28% markup for parts. They work on city vehicles. Why are they making a profit off of other budgets? Thus they are sitting on $10Million dollars. Roger Fraser stated he's cutting the FD because of a $1.7 Million shortfall and he can't find the money. Why is it so many other non-elected official have found excess money in Fleet services, IT, Water, Waste Management, etc. I suppose you'd never be able to find anything if you never looked.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 1:59 p.m.

And that's a year ago so infalte/deflate prices (I have no idea wheather more or less).


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

Would somebody please either fact check or fact enhance Pat Lesko's claims about "$1000 oil changes and $50 windshield wipers" If we are talking about oil changes on fire trucks, garbage trucks and recycling trucks, I can imagine that those numbers aren't out of line. You cannot drive a fire truck through a quickie oil change place. Also, an oil change is more than just draining and refilling. This looks like latching onto numbers out of context to make people howl. Also, how many jobs could be saved by not spending money maintaining Argo Dam over the next three years?


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 12:49 p.m.

"@Loka... It is factual. I should know," Right, I see what's going on. They knew about the 13, but then they added 7 more after they agreed to the cut. That's a pretty underhanded crap thing to do for sure. might that be purpose of it though? Doing somehting like that, sendds an obvious message to other Unions not to open contracts with the city. That wat they geet past the concessions and get right to lay-offs. Do you think that's their aim?


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

@Loka... It is factual. I should know, I was part of it. The 13 were told it was a temporary solution by the city until something else could be worked out. The FD came to the city with not only budget cutting items, but revenue generating items for the city and council (per Fraser) shot them all down. Stating they didn't wish to investigate any further. What else is a fact is that the city waited until after the FD gave the concessions before coming out and saying they were going to take even more. That's what stopped all the other labor groups from wanting to speak to the city. People like to talk about PA 312. It was designed to both parties negotiated in 'good faith' and one party wouldn't lie and cheat another. Well, looking at all the facts, you can see how much respect the city has for it's employees.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

@pragmatic, those are your words, not Schroeder's. A reduction in safety personnel means a reduction in safety.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

"I believe it was the next day or two after the deal was signed, the city came back and said that they not only were going to take 13, but take an additional 7 on top of that." I don't know if this is factually correct. I believe everyone involved knew before anything happened it was just a 6 month fix and more FF would be out after that time. i may be remebering it worng, or you may be talking about 7 additional to the 'after 6 months' time period.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

As an Ann Arbor City employee, I have to agree with Shroeder that the cuts in staffing (which I believe are necessary and doable), should be more evenly distributed among all the departments. However, I strongly object to his statement that the citizens safety is at stake if the cuts are allowed to proceed. These are very threatening words that imply that you must give us what we want or people are going to start dying in Ann Arbor. That is offensive and a great exaggeration. We all should be able to do more with less.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

If the police and firefighters genuinely believe what they claim, why aren't they willing to have the kinds of lowered healthcare benefits (with significant co-pays) and less princely pension plans (defined contribution, not defined benefit) that the rest of us city taxpayers have? If the city could afford the benefit packages for each of them, without having to cut other city services or raise city taxes, we wouldn't have this issue. It's not about trivial $50 charges or $1000 charges. Its about the millions the city has to give them to meet these Union-pressured contracts the city can no longer afford. If the police and firefighters can get down to much more reasonable compensation expense levels, the city taxpayers would gladly keep more of them! If these people running for council don't have the honesty to face these basic facts about the long-term financial bind the city is in, they can forget about getting my vote. Wish we had candidates running with more backbone to tackle this crisis head-on.

T. Kiefer

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

This is most certainly a disservice to the taxpayers of Ann Arbor. It's time for stronger management of OUR HARD EARNED DOLLARS.

David Cahill

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

A thousand dollar charge for an oil change? What else is lurking?

Old Salt

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Before we cut police and fire department personnel,perhaps it would be better to start in city hall, it would be better to wait there for service that wait for the fire department or the police in an emergency.