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Posted on Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor residents feel pinch of budget cuts as city shuts off street lights, cancels fall leaf pickup

By Tina Reed

This story has been updated to reflect a correction in the approximate location of streetlight testing, which is south of East Stadium Boulevard.

When Ann Arbor City Council members were trying to balance this year's budget, they promised budget cuts in the final plan might be painful.

Residents are starting to better understand what that means now that the 2010-2011 fiscal year began this month. One example: Ann Arbor began turning off about 50 street lights in mid-June. Another will come in fall when the city drops its leaf pickups.

In what a DTE Energy official called a 'rare' move for a city, it plans to turn off another 1,200 streetlights next month, or a total of one in six lights around the city to save money. All told, the "de-energizing" is expected to save about $100 per street lamp annually, or cut about $120,000 in the city energy budget, said Andrew Brix, city energy programs manager.

It was part of a broader move to trim expenses throughout the city's general fund in a struggle to balance the city budget earlier this year.

Before this year's budget passed in May, council fought to find places to cut back as falling revenue from the state and property taxes created a financial crisis. It considered ideas like cutting the grass in parks less often, slicing its human services funding, shuttering some recreation facilities and laying off some police and firefighters.

The final budget retained 30 jobs in public safety, avoided a $260,000 cut to human services agencies, and halted plans to reduce park mowing and trimming.

But among changes passed in May were plans to increase parking fine rates and stop curbside pickup of Christmas trees this year. And beginning this fall, the city of Ann Arbor will no longer conduct its two scheduled leaf pickups, said Tom McMurtrie, solid waste coordinator and systems planner for the city.

Instead, residents are being asked to consider mulching their leaves or bagging them up in compost bins for weekly curbside pickup.

Several Ann Arbor residents expressed confusion and frustration with the change and communication about it. Watering the garden around her central Ann Arbor home Wednesday afternoon, Kate Higgins said she can't imagine how eliminating the fall leaves pickup will work.

With five towering Maple trees, her yard consistently wins the distinction of having the largest amount of leaves on her street to clear every year.

Typically she starts the season mulching the leaves. But in the thick of the season — when the leaves would typically be hauled in big piles to the road for pickup — there is simply too much to be able to mulch, she said. And there would certainly be too many leaves to try to bag them every week, she said.

"That is not going to work well at all," Higgins said.

Another Ann Arbor resident, John Ross, said he wasn't sure many residents realized the change was coming. He couldn't imagine how many compost bags worth of leaves the numerous trees in his yard were going to produce.

"I understand changes needed to be made," Ross said. "But I just think it's going to be a real mess for the city."

McMurtrie acknowledged he and council members have received calls from residents.

"It will be a challenge for some people because there are quite a few yards that do have a lot of leaves," McMurtrie said.

But, he says, the change could end up bringing benefits to city residents and the environment. For example, the city will be offering curbside pickup to residents every week to better manage yard waste throughout the season. They say it will reduce the problem of vehicles parking over leaves and blocked bicycle lanes in the streets.

It also should reduce the amount of leaves clogging storm drains, sending excess particulate matter into the Huron River and reduce the number of extra vehicles needed to pick up leaves during a bulk pickup.

Last fall, Ypsilanti changed from a single-leaf pickup model for managing leaves to one which depended on weekly pickups and mulching.

"It went well for us," said Stan Kirton, Ypsilanti's public service director. The city offered workshops on mulching yard waste and residents seemed to make the transition smoothly. Personally, Kirton said, he ended up liking the change.

"I started mulching my leaves," he said. "It sure beats stuffing bags and carrying them out to the curb. I wish I would've started doing it years ago."

But really, he said, it was about the bottom line. "We really can't afford to do the bulk pickup anymore," Kirton said. Last season, Ypsilanti saved enough to pay one-and-a-half month's solid waste management bill, he said.

And it's Ann Arbor's bottom line that led to its collection of cuts, some more visible - like the street lights - than others, which residents may begin to notice in the coming months.

Neighbors in the central Ann Arbor neighborhood impacted by the street lights, south of East Stadium Boulevard between Washtenaw and Packard Avenues, had mixed views on the subject.

Some local residents, like Abbey Alvarez, said they had yet to notice the difference. But, Alvarez said, many people in the area either walked or rode their bike to and from work and might get "aggravated" with the change as daylight hours shortened.

Others in the area were unhappy with the change. "This is about safety," said Ann Arbor resident and parent Ali Reingold. "What happens in the winter when it gets dark at about 5 or 5:30 p.m. and there are kids walking home from a friend's house?"

Mayor John Hieftje and City Council Member Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward plan to do a walking tour with residents next Thursday, July 8 at 10 p.m. to discuss concerns of the neighborhood already impacted by the shutdown of the lights.

"The city and the state are obviously in very difficult economic times and the city needs to find areas of savings where it can," Taylor said. "These cuts will occasionally prove difficult and we need to see if this is an area where we could cut and still maintain service."

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Doin my leaf management now Tryin to go with the program -- Both Bins filled to max - Noticing some neighbors just raking into the street still True test will be in next 3 weeks here

Eric S

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

You'll live without leaf pickup. Pick a yard corner and pile 'em up. by January they'll pack down, and by next fall they'll be great soil. I'm not being a pollyanna: I've always been denied leaf pickup, despite towering neighbor maples, because I live on Jackson Ave where there's a travel lane at the curb that prevents dumping leaves there. So, for 16 past years, I've mulched, and seethed that I was denied this city perk. For me, this year brings equality.


Mon, Jul 12, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

I believe cities use too much energy in streetlamps anyways. Incredible waste of energy that doesn't make anyone any safer. I would love to see the city switch to LED lights for the areas outside of downtown to make it even more energy efficient. I remember the blackout a few years back and guess what? Nobody's safety was jeopardized by the lack of streetlights. In fact, it was a lot nicer without all the buzzing, annoying lights all over the place. I applaud our leaders for finding a way to cut the budget that doesn't involve cutting vital services. And also, we had waaaay too more police in this town than was called for. yet some would just want to cut vital human services and say 'tough luck' to the people who suffer because of it. Unbelievable!


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 11:37 a.m.

I live in a Pittsfield Township subdivision with approximately 450 homes. We have never had bulk leaf pick up, and have gotten along just fine mulching and/or bagging our leaves. Additionally, we only have 2 street lights by the elementary school in the neighborhood and have gotten along just fine. BTW we pay for our own trash pickup, maybe AA should consider that...

John Galt

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

Starting to resemble the lights going out in 'Atlas Shrugged.' These steps are just the beginning.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Look. All this "budget"-related stuff is fine and dandy, but when is Council going to finally spend its valuable time debating the Arizona immigration law?

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

I've been composting the leaves from my 1-acre lot since we moved here and don't put leaves in the street (with the exception of one particularly awful fall season when it snowed very early). I'd like to believe that this works. But it needs two things to do so: 1. A really comprehensive educational and outreach program to reach residents who have been carrying out this ritual for many years and who may not be online, no longer receive a newspaper, and don't read the Waste Watcher or the utility newsletter. I've observed many of my neighbors trustingly dumping not only their leaves, but their yard waste and even pumpkins, into the street starting in October. Most do not pay attention to the scheduled pickup times. Without an educational program, possibly combined with enforcement, we'll have leaves in the street and the storm sewers. 2. Because of this, I hope that the city will have some sort of cleanup team to pick up at least some of the material that will be littering the street and clogging the storm sewers. There was a disastrous decision made to buy street sweepers that could not follow the trucks in the fall, and residue from last year's poorly executed leaf pickup remained all winter. This makes for unsafe footing (we are supposed to be a community that encourages walking, and often this must be in the street). It is also unsightly and detracts from what is supposed to be a clean, attractive community that makes people want to live here and bestow awards.


Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

No leaf pick up will have more ramifications than the decision makers know. This is a huge tax on myself and my Ann Arbor Hills neighbors who live in tree town on large city lots. It is NOT even close to being physically possible to mulch the leaves or have them picked up on a weekly basis -- not even if that pickup occurred 52 weeks per year! The many hundreds of dollars "tax" for additional removal burden in A2 Hills will cause a large increase in the amount of leaves going into the city storm system and an undue "tax" on the many residents with large lots.


Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

The dropping of fall leaf pick thing is great news. Now the entire city parking system wont be superseded by a 12 inch wide, 6 inch tall, strip of leaves that covers almost the entire city.


Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

It would seem that by canceling leaf pick up this potentiates the likelihood of more costly sewer and drainage problems related to leaves clogging the system. I believe that this is why many municipalities choose to offer this service in the first place.

Richard C

Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

I'm mostly OK with cuttibg back on street lighting - there's one street light that's more of an annoyance to me than than a help since most of the light from it on the surrounding streets is blocked by the leaves in the summer, and doing without it in the winter wouldn't be much different than now. In any event, I'm in a pretty low-crime neighborhood, so I don't think the loss of lighting will affect the local crime rate. As for street lighting along major roads - frankly, when I've walked Miller Road at night, the street lighting doesn't matter much. The oncoming car headlights make mischief with my night vision (unless I wear a cap with a brim I can tip down to block the headlights.) The ambient light from houses and backscatter from the clouds is usually good enough to see the sidewalk and keep an eye on any other pedestrians. I don't know if reduced lighting would affect the saftey of any idiot pedestrians wearing black crossing in the middle of a block at night. Those people are bucking for the Darwin Award, and I don't think any amount of street lighting will compensate for extreme stupidity. I just moved in to my place last winter, and haven't had to deal with leaves yet - but I was anticipating building a chicken-wire cage to contain my leaves for on-site composting. Got to get busy with that. I *WOULD* appreciate if the city somehow marks the lights that are turned off - a splash of paint on the utility pole, a big tag - SOMETHING. I do understand that other neighborhoods face other challenges - more trees and more mature trees or higher crime. But I think these changes would be more of an inconvenience to my (new) neighborhood rather than harm.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

Beth: I say burn baby burn it actually has the lowest carbon footprint. Al Gore even told me so!


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

I would prefer that many more lights be turned off to save energy. How does a neighborhood petition the City to suggest additional lights to turn off?

Jay Thomas

Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.

Does this mean we can't have choo choo trains to Howell? The mayor was so counting on that. :(

Tina Reed

Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

To respond to some commenters, the city offered information online at: Streetlights chosen to be shut off were found to surpass city lighting rules of 190-foot spacing outside of downtown areas. Energy manager Andrew Brix said safety of both foot and bicycle traffic, as well a vehicles in areas where traffic accident occurred more often, was a main consideration of which lights would be de-energized.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

@InsideTheHall - as the mom of two asthmatic kids, I hope you're kidding! I can't believe how people are freaking out about having to bag their leaves. (Well, actually, I can, as this is and that's what people seem to do about everything...)We live in Pittsfield Twp., where we rake our leaves and put them in compost bags, and I vastly prefer that to having the streets clogged with leaf piles as in AA. I grew up on a yard that was 3/4 of an acre, with over 20 mature trees, and we raked and bagged them all. Yes, it's work, and yes, you can hire a company to do it for you if you can't or don't want to do it yourself. It's actually easier to be able to rake and bag just a portion of the leaves each day - with putting the leaves in the street, you had to do your whole yard at once.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

It's about time bring back leaf burning so we don't need to landfill.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

"Surely there are better ways to save $120,000/year than turning off 17% of the city's lights." Yes, there are much better ways. City labor costs must be reduced. $120,000 is also the amount spent for raises for just 22 of the 766 city employees just this year. For all 766 employees, over $4,250,000 in raises. As the economy weakens... That $4 mil would pay for 4 leaf gatherings per year for the next 10 years. The city employee wage growth trend is not sustainable.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

Re: millermaple. If you already have a leaf blower, adapters are available that will vacuum the leaves instead, and put them directly into your compost cart. The leaves are chopped up in the process, and ready for mulching, the chopping reduces the leaf volume so one cart load of vacuumed leaves can be equal to eight loads of unprocessed leaves. I do it, it's easy.


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 7:32 a.m.

Tina, is there going to be one leaf pickup or not? "One example: Ann Arbor began turning off about 50 street lights in mid-June. Another will come in fall when the city drops one leaf pickup." "And beginning this fall, the city of Ann Arbor will no longer conduct its two scheduled leaf pickups, said Tom McMurtrie, solid waste coordinator and systems planner for the city." I have 6 large oaks which drop a mountain of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. It's too much to bag, what am I supposed to do? Does anyone have any suggestions?


Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

True, city govt. is making many poor decisions. HOWEVER, re: leaf pickup, just mowing the leaves into the lawn weekly, when one mows anyways, will work well for the majority of residences. Lawns treated this way will be nourished and it is little or no extra work.

Mary H

Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 12:10 a.m.

Keeping the lights on is a basic government function. Surely there are better ways to save $120,000/year than turning off 17% of the city's lights. What a short-sighted "negative advertisement" for living in Ann Arbor -- the city can't even afford to keep the lights on. Definitely a draw for those considering a move to Ann Arbor!

Me Next

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

The loss of Police or Fire Fighters without evidence of less need is a violation of the Intent to grant governing & unrepresentative of "We...". Call for a Re-Assessment of your Private Property. You have a Right to be Fairly Taxed a percentage of Real Market Value FOR "Common Services" to enjoy as lawful citizen. Ann Arbor's percentage should be written in Local Gov Rules. The State Tax Commissioner usually notifies localities what millage increase can be made, there must be justification by Improved or Needed Service where you can enjoy it equally. I had my property taxes raised & the millage increase was due to a closer Sheriff's Office. I was OK with that. Several years later, no improvements & less service for me to enjoy - my taxes went up again. I got a Re-Assessment & demanded to have itemized services I was paying for with property taxes - The attempt to steal was halted & I paid what was my fair share. IF you don't assert your rights, you don't have any. The lady with excess leaves is a great market for Private Service of rakers, haulers, & Storage for a Marketable Mulch. Those Human Services, are they "Commonly Enjoyed"? Get an itemized bill & insist on "Common needs" only. You have a Right to know. Flashlights & Reflective clothing work as well as street lights. Instead of mowing, why not cover it with leaves? The city has shown evidence of being above it's own law & therefore must cease "citing" private property owners for not cutting their grass. All street lights should be turned off; The dispatcher should notify The City Grid which one to turn on for temporary need for Public Safety Service. Public Water is a book. Politicians need to go & be replaced with real citizen representation. "back door tax is right". You know you are not represented when Public Buildings improve as private property deteriorates from Over taxing. Research LED lighting & you'll find that they freeze & are destroyed, high replacement rate. Solar lights are more economical but still overpriced for value.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

What happens to the leaves that fall into the street?


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

I'm happy to see these cuts happening; they are soooo minor in their effects on our middle-class lives. Gosh, leaves in our yards and parks - how horrible!


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

Here is a quote from Mr. Stanton of 2010-02-28: "...the average active employee costs the city $98,191 a year in base salary and benefits, which will rise to $103,769 next year.." Irrespective of the service reductions mentioned above, we can be glad that our city employees are getting raises. Isn't an average city employee receiving 80% more total compensation than the average private sector employee more important than some marginal city services?


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

@carolyn, I do agree with you about being able to see the stars in the night sky again. Replacing lights with downward facing LED's designed to minimize light pollution, while strategically reducing the number would be great! However, I don't agree that those who are decision-makers take the needs of all the people they are serving into account equally. They likely give top priority to needs of the most influential and well-to-do people. Ultimately, this hurts us all as crime gets a foothold in the underserved areas and moves upward. Transparency doesn't happen by accident, but because we demand it. Transparency was an embarrassing issue with the McChrystal-like behavior of one of our city council members, apparently with others colluding. But it can be more subtle, too.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

I do think the new policy for leaf compost in place/city pickup with compostables makes sense. I'd just request that dog owners be extra vigilant about cleaning up after their pets. Last year I was collecting some leaves in bags to compost for the next season and ran into dog poop. It sure messed things up. Perhaps stricter regulations for dog owners is in order. I like the idea of finding some neighborhood teens to do leaf bagging, but have never been able to find one to shovel snow, so think that's unlikely.

Sandra Samons

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

Typical Ann Arbor government: puts forth all kinds of grandiose projects while unable to balance the budget and finding it necessary to cut basic services!I am a native Ann Arborite and I love this town, but there is a very long history of this sort of thing, like one day you are a rational person, and then you get elected to public office, walk through the doors of city hall, and something very strange happens to you. Your feet no longer touch the ground!


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 11:03 a.m.

I can't say that I mind the de-energizing part (turning off street lamps). I think we can live without 1 in 6 lights (we are talking about 50 ft lamps after all). I have to believe that the people who made the decision to turn off these lights took safety into consideration. Maybe it is the first step to seeing the stars in the night sky again.....................


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:54 a.m.

How about doing some planning in reducing the lighting? How about being transparent about the plan? Put everything on the table. Start with the highest income neighborhoods and work down if you are going to take out streetlights. Leave the lights alone in any areas that have higher crime rates. Begin replacing those lights in high crime areas with strategically placed LED's, then work your way up to those with least crime. And while you are at it, you can station more of the remaining police and firefighters closest to the lowest income areas while cutting back on those in the highest income areas. Those at the lower income levels can least afford crimes and fires. If our city council had looked at the long view and the big picture, as leaders should, we would have already been spending money to change lighting gradually to downward facing LED's. This too would have cut the budget while reducing light pollution. We seem to be able to afford a fancy new parking meter system, with the argument that it would cut costs, but we will be shutting off all the lights soon, a different way of cutting costs. Meanwhile our water bills have been going up. Perhaps our water systems will someday be privatized as has happened in other countries. Water only for those who can afford it. On one hand we hear that Ann Arbor is doing well financially (in recent political debates), on the other hand we cannot afford these basic services. Which is it? One of the candidates running for office is full of political bluster and disorganized. The other seems to support business as usual and various construction projects that may put us at risk in the future. We recently defeated a member of city council who was behaving in a juvenile, destructive manner. But we do need some better choices. I'd love to see someone(s) new come forward with less rhetoric, fewer attacks, and proposals for a comprehensive plan to solve the problems we are facing, one that is fully transparent, one that puts everything on the table and prioritizes it all, a fair plan that will avoid these ugly surprises. Of course, any current candidate is free to do this as well. They'd get my vote. People may be more willing to make painful cuts if we admit we have difficulties and the process seems fair, responsible, and transparent. We need some leaders who will lead.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

The beginning of this article says "Another will come in fall when the city drops one leaf pickup." Later it says: "And beginning this fall, the city of Ann Arbor will no longer conduct its two scheduled leaf pickups". The city is dropping both of them correct?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

I hope that the citizens of Ann Arbor truly enjoy their new city hall addition. That is where most of our savings went. About 1/3 of the fund balance (I am quoting from memory and have not reviewed the figures recently) was shifted over to pay for a new building which is going to have a higher operating cost than the old one. I wrote a lengthy blog post on budget decision-making last December. See It made the point about the difference in fund balance (savings) and operational cash flow.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

@ Susan S and AA I don't see that many complaints about the lack of leaf pickup. As I stated I have no problem taking care of my leaves! Its the lazy neighbors leaves I tire of taking care of. I challenge you to find a cleaner street gutter than mine! @KLMClark You must have one heck of a garden. There is no way I could compost all my leaves in a town garden. That's a great for those that don't have as many leaves. And the FEW in the city with a garden!


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Another backhanded tax just showed up with this months water bill, in the form of the "WaterMatters" newsletter which announces on page 2 under the subheading "Prevent backflow!" that SOME property owners will receive a letter from them soon. If you get this letter you will have to take time off work to have a master plumber come to your house to inspect for the need, and possibly install a backflow prevention device, and provide you with paperwork to prove your house complies. Then, you will need to take off more time to have a city inspector come look at this device, which they may/or may not approve (enter round two). This of course, they could not do when they had all the water meters replaced recently, well, just because.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

Too much light pollution in downtown A2 with the new street lights. The city could have saved money with half as many light posts (I know the lights are LED, but the fixtures weren't free). And the new signs (cost?) designating where various parts of campus and town are located make me feel like a tourist every day, as do the prices at local restaurants. The parking tickets will help keep locals away from town, so I guess the tourists will have it to themselves (along with the 30,000 young people slated to live and drink downtown). Let's keep our citizens safe, even if they live in the Pattengill area.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

No street lights? What do we pay taxes for? Street lights are the most basic of services. Yet another indication of how mismanaged the city funds are.

Susan Schwartzenberger

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

Leaf problems in Tree City? Disaster! How about self-responsibility? Ask the question 'How can I help my struggling city' and answer 'deal with my own leaves.' Country-dwellers do it all the time without looking 'sloppy.' Regarding kids and street lights - parents, be responsible for the whereabouts of your own kids. Dark is dark, summer or winter. Living within city limits shouldn't negate responsibility. Street lights create a false sense of security. Bright light in your eyes keep you from seeing what's moving in the shadows, so carrying a flashlight is a good idea even when all the lights are burning.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Part II of my comment above - I should have pointed out that this area is a test area and that the city is planning on shutting off lights all over the city in the coming months.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

The area in which the lights will be turned off is not as described in the article. If it were "north of East Stadium Blvd. between Washtenaw and Packard..." that would be Burns Park and Ives Woods. I am sure that is not happening. In fact, according to the city's website, it is south of East Stadium...the St. Francis, Pattengill, Ann Arbor Woods neighborhoods.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

WRT street lights - I've always thought that street lights, particularly at intersections, were important for public safety. OTOH, there's a lot of light pollution in Ann Arbor that we should be dealing with. It would be great if we could be selective about which lights get turned off, to leave the ones near intersections on. At the same time, has anyone considered a tax for light pollution that discourages lights pointing up? We could use that money to help subsidize more efficient lighting around town. As a bicyclist, I'm only a little concerned, because bicyclists are required by law to have a headlight. You can get impressively bright headlights these days for less than $30 - and did I mention that they're required by law anyway? As a pedestrian, I'll just carry a flashlight when I'm out at night, like I would anyway. WRT the leaf pickup, that's fine too, since we use our tree leaves in our garden each year. We haven't put leaves out for pickup for at least five years. Some years we've even taken neighbor's leaves out of the street to use them. They're great for mulching the garden beds, and in the spring we put the partly broken down leaves in our compost bins. The resulting compost makes great fertilizer. There's no need to chop them with a mower, though they'll break down faster that way. And our AA Summer taxes went up 45 cents.

David Cahill

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

To adapt a famous quotation from an earlier era: "The lights are going out all over Ann Arbor. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

BTW My summer taxes went up about $1. I can live with that change!


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

We all have to realize that we cannot have all the services we have had in the past. Having said that the argument comes in deciding where to make the cuts. I can take care of my leaves but I tire of taking care of the neighbors. Ypsilanti can give lip service to how well the change went for them. What else are they going to say?(When is the last time you heard a politician admit a certain policy was a failure). I guarantee you there are more neighborhoods in Ypsilanti where this was a mess than not. And more and more people are getting used to things being sloppy so they don't even notice. And watch and see how many residents put their leaves in the street expecting they will be picked up. As for the street lights. I don't think it is fair to ask one neighborhood to bite the bullet while the rest of us do not sacrifice. I agree that it will be an issue when it is dark at 5:30 in the winter. Why not have a rotating system where different neighborhoods are turned off every week or month? The bottom line it is inevitable that we have to make changes. The problem will be in agreeing on which cuts to make. We have way too much fluff in services.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

Amazingly, the water rates increase yearly, the taxes increase yearly, and the services are plummeting. The city amazingly was able to take $1m from the storm water and use it to plant trees... and yet the storm water rates increase because of our failing infrastructure. I have lost all confidence in the people who are supposedly "stewards" of this city.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Ouch! The news of these cuts hurts even more since we just got our summer property tax bill this week, which continues to go up, even though the value of our house has gone down and we continue to lose city services. We have 3 large trees on our property and we are able to mulch most of the leaves they produce with the lawn mower (BTW, how do the hydrocarbon emissions from THAT affect the environment?). BUT, we live next door to a small city park that has at least a dozen large trees, and for the past two years, the city has neither mulched, nor raked the many, many leaves they produce to the curb. So many leaves now blow over into our yard in the fall from the park that last fall we put up a snow fence to hold them back. Now with summer's arrival, the city has only mowed the grass once or twice, and only because we called and requested it (If we were to let our grass grow that tall we'd likely be cited by the city), so now my husband has started mowing at least part of the park grass (the part that's not still covered with last years leaves, which has killed the grass underneath). Well, at least our street lights are still on. Or are they? Oh, well, I guess we'll have to take care of that, too, by leaving our porch lights on all night.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 6:39 a.m.

first we lost police. then we lost firemen. now we lose street lamps? what about public safety? but we preserved the human services budget? what does the human services budget cover and what is the biggest chunk of that budget? i would love to know.