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Posted on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor police and fire departments facing layoffs yet again, budget analysis shows

By Kyle Feldscher

The jobs of five police officers and three firefighters are on the chopping block in a budget analysis presented to the Ann Arbor City Council on Monday night to help close a projected $2.4 million shortfall in the next fiscal year.

Police Chief Barnett Jones and Fire Chief Dominick Lanza were among the city officials who presented a budget impact analysis to the council. Both said their departments would be heavily impacted if they were forced to reduce their budgets by either 2.5 percent or 4 percent.

“Looking at this, I’d prefer to be wrestling with a bad guy than talking about these scenarios,” Jones said.

Facing a budget shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year, officials asked department heads to come up with budgets based on both a 2.5 percent reduction and 4 percent reduction.


Fire Chief Dominick Lanza (left) and Police Chief Barnett Jones presented the City Council with a budget analysis Monday night.

File: Ryan J. Stanton |

The police department accounts for $23.1 million and the fire department accounts for $13.8 million of the city’s $81.45 million general fund budget for 2010-11.

The police department would cut about $747,000 from its budget under the 2.5 percent scenario and about $1.1 million under the 4 percent scenario. Similar figures were not presented during discussions of cuts in the fire department.

According to an analysis provided by Jones, a 2.5 percent cut would mean eliminating two dispatcher positions, one vacant telecommunications position, one vacant police officer position, two other police officer positions resulting in layoffs, one police service specialist resulting in a layoff and one vacant police professional assistant for fiscal year 2011-12.

If a 4 percent budget cut was made, an additional three police officers would be laid off, the analysis showed.

The situation for the fire department was fairly similar.

Lanza told the council that with a 2.5 percent cut, the fire department would have to eliminate five positions in next year’s budget, with three of those positions resulting in layoffs and the other two positions left open after retirements. At the 4 percent level, one additional firefighter would have to be laid off.

The situation for the fire department is slightly different due to the planned study of a paid on-call fire department, Lanza said.

The department recently began intermittent closures of Fire Station 3 at 2130 Jackson Ave. in an attempt to eliminate overtime, Lanza said.

“It didn’t matter which station it was, to a degree it was going to lengthen response times,” he said. “If there was a fire, lengthier response times means more damage. It doesn’t matter which station, there will be an impact to the community.”

To balance the budget for fiscal year 2010-11, the city eliminated five police positions and five firefighter positions in July. In the fire department, four of those were layoffs.

Officials also presented an analysis for fiscal year 2012-13, which included more position cuts.

Jones said at the 2.5 percent level, the department would be forced to eliminate one more position from dispatch operations, resulting in a layoff, and four police officers. The department also would eliminate $31,723 in materials and supplies and demote one lieutenant to sergeant and two sergeants to the rank of police officer. At the 4 percent level, an additional four police officers would be eliminated.

Overtime wouldn't be eliminated or reduced in either budget, Jones said. He told the council he was still researching how to configure patrols to keep overtime intact with a loss of personnel.

Lanza said a total of six firefighters would have to be cut in 2012-13, but said the predictions aren't accurate because the department won’t know its future until the study on converting to a paid on-call department is completed.

“A lot of what we do is guesstimates and if we had a better idea of the future, and they’ve done their study, everybody including the employees would know (the future),” Lanza said. “It’s hard for anyone to make accurate predictions — we do the best we can.”

The police and fire departments weren't the only areas targeted for budget cuts during Monday's work session.

City Administrator Roger Fraser presented the budget impact analysis for his office, the mayor and city council’s office, the communications department, human resources and the city clerk’s office.

All of those departments combined need to remove about $86,600 from their budgets for fiscal year 2011-12 and about $90,000 for fiscal year 2012-13.

The reductions in those departments included cutting down on printing and supplies, reducing pay for contracted services, and other assorted measures.

Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford presented the budget impact analysis for the city’s finance department. Crawford detailed about $102,000 in cuts for the 2011-12 fiscal year and about $104,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Crawford said much of the IT budget would be determined by what the operations side of the city required of the department.

“The supply and demand from the operating side is the biggest part of making sure IT costs are appropriate,” Crawford said.

Kyle Feldscher is a reporter for He can be reached at


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Rudy Caparros

Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

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Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:55 a.m.

Yes, property values are falling, there's a nationwide movement to "lower taxes" and that results in cuts to schools, police & fire departments, road and bridge maintenance - a whole lot of essential public services. Once great states like Michigan and California are on the brink of a public services collapse. Lets see now: just three years ago it hit the news - fraudulent activities at some of the biggest financial institutions in the world brought on a recession coupled with a real estate collapse. The perpetrators were not charged and many in fact received bonuses in the six figure category. Since then, there's been this pervasive propaganda campaign urging a popular revolt against taxation. This campaign is aimed at public schools, public postal service, public broadcasting, public works of all kinds, public funded retirement and medical insurance and even public libraries. Seems that some group doesn't like the public at all. Maybe that's because these people and that particular political party don't consider themselves part of the public at all. They believe they're entitled to a lot more than what mere employees and customers get - they want it all. So naturally: they promote anything which undermines, erodes and destroys what the public depends on for protection against crime, against poverty, against personal medical catastrophies and against ignorance of things like Science and Art and Culture and privatized news media. Calm down everyone, these cuts aren't as bad as elsewhere (but of course, that make this city an island which will eventually end up under water too). Governor $nyder, Inc. will be privatizing us straight to Heaven any time now.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 3:47 a.m.

OK so here's what you folks should do: Abolish the Fire Department. Shut it down Dom before you leave. Take the budgeted money, put it in the city's bank. Now for every house or business that burns down to the ground, as they usually do, pay off the owner's co-insurance and deductible (if insured) or just pay off the cost to re-build. Voila Bet you save half the budgeted money. Forget the few lives lost; call it citizen attrition or some other politically correct term.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Darwin would call it survival of the fittest. You could eliminate most of the PD under the same theory.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

It must really be that bad A2roots. The Chief of the department just took your advice.

Tim Darton

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Oops, that should be the police and fire portion of the city budget has grown from 1/3 to over 1/2 over the last several years.

Tim Darton

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

Roadman: I voted for Mayor Sheldon and liked her but when she was Mayor no city in Michigan was worried about anything having to do with the budget. They didn't worry about giving away to much in the union contracts. That all changed in the worst decade since the 1930's. In the 1990's the state didn't cut revenue sharing by 31% and the UM didn't take over the Pfizer property costing the city 5% of their revenue. Property tax income kept going up enough to meet the growth in health care benefits. In the 80's and 90's the city workforce grew and grew to over 1,000 employees. Now the workforce is down around 740 and I applaud the current administration. They are doing what has to be done, downsizing government to the level of income. And if you look at it over time, the portion of the budget for police and fire has grown from about 1/3 of the general fund to 1/3. Council has obviously been work to protect the uniform employees from layoffs as much as possible. Last May they the council avoided laying off something like 12 police and if some of the 6 firefighters who could have taken retirement had taken it, no FF's would have been laid off. A2 is coping with this decade better than any city in the state.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

Unfortunately the voice of reason and common sense is not anything AAFF/PD want to listen to. They would ratherslam every facet of our City and see their co-workers thrown under the bus rather than opt to pay toward a benefit co-pay.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

If Ingrid Sheldon was mayor we would not be in this bind. City Council is likewise to blame.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

Here's a novel idea: Let's have City Council cancel the Dreiseitl water art project and save $700,000. Let's lay off Roger Fraser; save $120,000. Let's cut the City Attorney's pay in half; save $97,000 (he will still earn more than the Ecorse city attorney). Let's reduce by 10% the salary of the Mayor and City Council; save $139,000. Let's layoff District Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft; save $84,000. There: I just solved how to trim $1.2 million of the budget shortfall and save half the police and fire personnel.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

what a genius you are...yikes. How about every ff and pd pay $300 per month toward a co-pay.

glenn thompson

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

It is unfortunate that the article did not report Mr. Crawford's explanation on how the departmental "cuts" were determined. Mr. Crawford stated that the departments are first assigned a budgetary number considered necessary to perform the same level of service as they did the previous year. The "cut" is a percentage from that number, not necessarily a cut from the previous years budget or actual expense. This process puts the budget at the discretion of Mr. Fraser and Mr. Crawford. Council member Briere noted that after this years "cut" Mr. Crawford's IT department received essentially the same dollar amount as it did in the previous year. So much for IT "doing more with less" that we are so often told. This process rewards the inefficient departments with continual cost increases. I congratulate Council member Briere for noting the IT department is essentially uncut while other departments receive real cuts. I call on her, and the other Council members, to now demand that Roger Fraser and Tom Crawford use a more equitable means of preparing the budget. The "cuts" that we have told about for several years should be reviewed. As a final note, the IT budget is approximately $8,000/yr for every city employee. That means every employee mowing grass, shoveling cold patch into potholes, or driving a driving a refuse truck, has an IT department $8,000/yr. Why?


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Wow, this sounds like the exact type of upper level mismanagement that drives private companies into extinction. Unfortunately, the city will not ever be extinct. It will just look like whatever Mr. Fraser and Mr. Crawford want. I know Mr. Fraser lives in Scio, where does Mr. Crawford live? Obviously not near AAFD sta. 3. Probably in a Large Pittsfield home.

CSI Junkie

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

Can't believe nobody has been putting it all together...........Fraser wants a PAID ON CALL department. You don't really believe that the issues aren't being driven to have this as the end result? So you'll have firefighters all over the city working other jobs and when they get a call those available will go............and when they can't get the manpower needed the will use mutual aid from surrounding departments. Hopefully they won't be on their own calls. And what is the population numbers in these towns and cities and what is Ann Arbor's population? Oh and don't forget the events that the U of M holds and the influx of more people. This is bound to effect most of the County. Well done Mr. Fraser you have just moved the city backwards.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

Ann Arbor politics are crazy. So glad I live in Scio Township.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Pragmatic - Why don't you donate $13,000 back to city since you feel you are so grossly overpaid?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

At least he's honest. I know other city employees who feel the same but won't voice their opinion for the obvious reason.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

And throw this one on the fire; Your current Fire Chief has now resigned effective the end of March. Nice.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

We have the highest paid City Attorney in the state, who eans more than the governor, a double-dipping mayor that gets alarge salary as " an intermittent lecturer" at a university that does business with the city and many administrators gettiing six figures. Let's layoff Roger Fraser and cut the City Attorney's pay instead of layoffs of police and fire personnel.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Not sure, but my guess is you are either a ff or pd. So, how about paying a fare share toward the cost of your benefits if you are one of the people sucking up my tax dollars. Because stupid decisions and union power years ago we are burdened and yet no body wants to give up the golden goose. Rather, they would let co-workers get laid off. Go figure.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

I still don't hear any willingness to address the golden parachute retirement program that the city awards it employees at age 50. Until then, they have no credibility with me. They obviously would rather eliminate employees and positions than modify their early and extremely costly retirement policies.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Probably because they are not willing to give up the golden goose. They would rather see colleagues let go. Poor decisions when the economy was different have become a huge burden. Very few people in workforce today get away with minimal or no co-pay on benefits, yet our FD and PD still do.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I agree with Mr. Goldsmith. The police and fire personnel in our city do a great job and risk their lives every day. A2 residents rely upon their performance in protecting the public and saving lives. The police and fire department functions are the most integral part of city government. Remember the police department just lost 27 officer and civilian personnel due to budget cuts and early buyouts sponsored by Leigh Greden when he served on the Budget Committee. Support these police and fire fighters; they deserve our support. We should e-mail the mayor's office and City Council to let them know that cuts to these vital services are not appropriate.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

That's fine; then decrease benefits as opposed to layoffs? Were the unions ever given a choice of one over the other?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

They do not deserve anything. They chose the profession and are paid well and have benefits beyond what most get. They need to share the burden of the cost of benefits.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

As a City of Ann Arbor employee, I can tell you that our benefits are outstanding, far superioor to what workers in the private sector are receiving. I receive health care insurance and the City pays the entire $13,000 per year premium. Plus I have a very lucrative pension. This is all due to the generosity of the kind residents of the City of Ann Arbor. if the city wants to get serious about achieving long time fiscal stability, they are going to have to address not only staffing levels, but the high wages and benefits that they are paying their employees. I for one am willing to sacrifice. All public employees should be willing to help out during these tough economic times.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

BornNRaised, I assume you work for the Fire department? What sort of copay do you have for your health insurance premium? pragmatic claims to work for the city and claims to have no copay on his/her health insurance . How does that compare to your experience?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

And I'm Peter Pan. I fly around the city with all of my friends. See, you can say anything on a blog. No way of proving it. I'm happy to prove where I work in the city.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

Finally an employee has spoken. Unfortunately your colleagues would probably tar and feather you for making sense. Because stupid decisions were made years ago is no reason we need to continue to be burdened by them.

Karen Brewer

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

I have a suggestion: How about A2's churches adopt a policeman or fireman each or maybe have multiple churches support one fireman or policeman? They risk their lives for us what are we doing for them?

Stephen Landes

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

It has become pointless to have this debate in these comment posting areas. The only action we can take is to vote for people who share our priorities and will change the article structures in city government that pigeon hole money so it can only be spent for a narrow purpose no matter how circumstances change. In my opinion we have done this pigeon-holing because we don't trust city government to make these decisions: we have special millages to create special funds so that the things we value are protected while reducing the flexibility needed to respond to change. Let's elect people we can trust. The current batch on city council, the mayor, and the people they have hired/appointed to the myriad commissions and committees that run the city are obviously not in tune with reality. It makes no sense to keep re-hiring these people at every election and then treating city employees like the bad guys.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

Mr. Ingersoll wrote: "Why are fire protection services not put out to bid to private organizations and other public entities Included in the contract could be performance goals that include a reduction of fires in the community." Talk about Republican talking points!! Yes, let's contract with Pittsfield Township for fire services. Not certain how Mr. Ingersoll thinks that solves the problem. Or, in the alternative, let's privatize--the Republican answer to any problem. But I'm most interested in how he thinks privatizing fire department department functions, which one presumes he thinks will save money, might lead to reducing fires in the community. The fire department, due to budget shortfalls, has drastically reduced its fire inspections over the years. How would privatization and less money change that? And then he writes: "The primary factor in the loss of life, is not the distance from the burning house to the fire station but rather the number of correctly operating smoke detectors in the property." Really? Any actual FACTS to back up this claim? Didn't think so. Is Mr. Ingersoll SERIOUSLY suggesting that the fire department ought to be required to inspect private dwellings? If so, 1) Yeah, that won't increase costs much (snicker); and 2) a "small-government' Republican is seriously suggesting mandatory inspections of private dwellings? One word describes his "ideas": Bizarrre. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

Good things those smoke alarms are also programmed to do CPR when you have a heart attack, patch you up when you're bleeding out from an accident, cut you out of a car to save your life, pull you from the river when you tip your canoe, rescue you from elevators... Do I need to go on? Some of you with to focus on ONE responsibility of the FD and build your entire case around that. Why not ask what all the FD is tasked with in this city before running your fingers across the keyboard.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

"And then he writes: "The primary factor in the loss of life, is not the distance from the burning house to the fire station but rather the number of correctly operating smoke detectors in the property." Really? Any actual FACTS to back up this claim? Didn't think so.' I don't know if there is a study to back the claim or not. But common sense would suggest properly working and properly positioned smoke alarms would give a large majority of folks more of a chance to escape than waiting for a fireman to arrive and take them out. would you trade smoke alarms for proximity to a fire station assuming you couldn't have both? If I had to pick one over the other I'd take the smoke alarms

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

snoopdog wrote: "Everyone is going to complain that their department should not be cut. Bottom line is police and fire make up over 1/3 of the total budget. Here's a novel idea. How about all the police and firefighter's agree to reasonable cuts to their pensions and healthcare and maybe a 3-5% paycut." Let me see if I understand snoopdog's logic: The city and its citizens (as represented by their elected representatives) apparently are unwilling to pay for the current level of fire and police protection. So, in order to maintain the current level of protection, police and fire personnel are supposed to take voluntary pay cuts. In other words, police and fire personnel should foot the bill to maintain public safety a current levels. Makes no sense to me, and I'm certain it makes no sense to the police or to the fire department, either. If the citizens of A2 are not willing to pay for the current level of service, they should expect what they pay for, nothing more. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

Edward, what's wrong with you? Don't you know arguing common sense on this 'blog' is pointless. There are too many people that know everything, or are just plain self-appointed experts (like the FD, and never having even stepped foot into a station). You can't tell them anything. Stop trying. I did.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

CL wrote: "All I'm saying is the private sector has been doing this for awhile now." Snoopy wrote: "Makes no sense Eddie unless you care to keep your co-workers employed but they don't. All they care about are themselves, they have made that very clear. They don't care about their co workers, the taxpayers or anyone else but themselves and their beloved union." OK. New Logic. Let's see if I understand now. Some private sector workers (and let's be clear--it is "some") have been taking hits in pay and benefits. That has hurt their ability fulfill the obligations they took on (e.g., mortgages) when they were being paid at a higher rate. So now, public servants are supposed to willingly join that game. And they are supposed to be more concerned about their co-workers than are their employers. And they're supposed to do all of this--to voluntarily take pay cuts and potentially have problems with mortgages etc . . . --and continue to provide the current level of service at reduced prices because their employers (us) won't pay for those services as we have in the past? Yeah, that makes sense. I'll tell you what. Go try that on your doctor. Or your lawyer. Or your dentist. "Hey doc. I know I owe you $X, but I took a 10% pay cut over the last decade, so I should have to pay only 90% of $X" Yeah. I'm certain that will work. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Hey Snoop... I know you're an expert and already probably know this, so I'll let the others know... The city informed us that no matter what we do, they were going to lay off in the FD. But yeah, we're pretty self centered, huh?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Makes no sense Eddie unless you care to keep your co-workers employed but they don't. All they care about are themselves, they have made that very clear. They don't care about their co workers, the taxpayers or anyone else but themselves and their beloved union.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

ERMG I gave 3 examples ( I could give several more) of the "do more for less" scarifies the private sector makes and you cherry pick one of the three to try to discredit my point. And if its Okay to export jobs overseas where labor is cheap maybe we should import cheap labor over here to work the public sector. I'm being sarcastic of course, but your response doesn't seem to refute my point at all. When you say "There is no good reason that safety personnel ought foot the bill for protection for which A2's citizens won't pay" the real point your making is they shouldn't be asked to do more for less. Or do more for the same amount. All I'm saying is the private sector has been doing this for awhile now.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

CL wrote: "Then it doesn't make sense in the private sector either. Yet jobs are sent over seas where labor is cheap" 1) It does make sense (to a point) to do this if the products made overseas can be made more cheaply there but bought here (the "to a point" being that there will be a point at which, as high-paying jobs leave this country and everyone becomes a greeter at WalMart, we no longer will be able to make products made in Bangalore). 2) But THESE jops--police and fire--can't be shipped to Bangalore, can they? Hence your example is apples and oranges. Ann Arbor has a choice. It can pay for current levels of protection or it can pay for less than current levels of protection. There is no good reason that safety personnel ought foot the bill for protection for which A2's citizens won't pay. Good Night and Good Luck

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

"In other words, police and fire personnel should foot the bill to maintain public safety a current levels. Makes no sense to me, and I'm certain it makes no sense to the police or to the fire department, either." Then it doesn't make sense in the private sector either. Yet jobs are sent over seas where labor is cheap, peoples insurance copay's get bigger and bigger employer contributions to retirement plans get smaller and smaller. Everywhere you turn folks are getting squeezed. So when someone says the public sector should do more for less, it may not make sense but its not without precedence in the private sector.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Darn it Ed.You need to stop making posts I agree with.It upsets the balance of nature


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

It is sad that the police & firedepartment has to suffer. One of the reason AA is in such trouble is the loss of tax revenue. With the UofM buying up all the property and not paying taxes I guess we can expect this to happen Maybe the U of m needs to go private.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Why is public safety the first to get cut? It seems that staff levels at City Hall are far more bloated than the Fire/Police departments.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

Why are fire protection services not put out to bid to private organizations and other public entities? Included in the contract could be performance goals that include a reduction of fires in the community. Under the current business/economic model, the best thing that can happen for the fire department is a rash of fires that cause damage to persons and property. Why? Because then the public gets emotional about the loss of life and property and tends to react in favor of paying whatever it takes to maintain or increase the level of service which is "reactionary" rather than "preventative". A simple statistical analysis could probably identify properties along the 20/80 rule (20 percent use 80 percent of the resources) and cost effective programs along the lines of information battery and smoke detector distribution could be put in place to annually reduce the number and severity of fires. The primary factor in the loss of life, is not the distance from the burning house to the fire station but rather the number of correctly operating smoke detectors in the property. Accordingly IF YOU ARE REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT SAVING LIVES, then get the firemen out of the station and have them show up at every property in the city, once a year asking if the occupants know how to test their smoke alarms and if necessary providing the occupants with 99 cent batteries courtesy of the fire department and city of Ann Arbor. The economics of the current safety model are unsustainable.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

Chase: Why don't you run for City Council? We need your brilliant Libertarian mind and ideas.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

What better way to pass a millage then to create a crisis?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Emotions and posturing will not decide the question. It is about raw numbers and dollars. The largest portion of the city budget is city and fire. To make any in-roads to balancing expenses those dept's have to be cut. The older firefighters and police officers will retain their pensions and the newest will be thrown under the firetruck. That is the way unions work.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Snoop - We tried that. The Mayor asked for everyone to take a 3% pay cut. We were the only ones to do so. Not even Fraser took the pay cut. In fact we took a 4% pay cut. The very next week they annouced they would layoff 5 people and they did just that. We did it to save the young memebers of your Fire Dept and it failed. Miserably. Would you do it again? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

stop with the martyrism role of the poor lone wolf dept. to give something up. What about all the hard stands the fire dept. has taken? What about the mock promotions just before retirement to get bigger pensions that have ocurred in the past? You take one incident that MAY have been miscalculated or miscommunicated and you won't let it go. Get over it and deal with the current economic crisis.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

I care for your safety very much Craig. I will not deny that I do have a sense of self preservation as well. Eating is important to myself and to my ability to watch out for your safety and the rest of the 105,000ish people in this City.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

I'm actually on your side in that I don't want to see the fire services cut. I'd rather have more firemen than expensive fountains, underground parking structures, golf courses, roundabouts, etc etc. if those are choices we need to make. I want to maintain the fire department or even make it bigger. I truly want that. I want that because i want the fire department to show up as fast as possible when a citizen (me) needs your services. But I also want you to find a way to do your grocery shopping in a fashion that doesn't put me at risk. You and i both know it can be done. You just choose not to. Instead you make excuses like "eating is important" as if there is only one option to achieve that need. I'd give up a lot of other city services to have two fire trucks and as many firemen as that requires at #4. Then you could send somebody to the store with little or no sacrifice in potential response time. But that's not the situation.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

As the world turns...sure seems to be the same commentator's as always. The question that is always avoided regards the benefits package the AAFD and AAPD receive during employment and upon retirement. The packages they get have been untouchable. Unfortunately theses packages are a financial disaster. I would like to know what the co-pays are for all employees? In the past AAFD/PD did not have a co-pay. Has this changed? What is the co-pay? If there is one is it anywhere reasonable in comparison to what is out there in the workforce today? Sure would be nice to get answers to these questions. Until then I say cut till they pay an appropriate share of their benefits packages.

Tim Darton

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Ahh... the same old tired myths are trotted out each day. The art project? Ryan Stanton has covered this at length on this site. NONE of the money being spent could have ever been spent on police or firefighters. Some here keep spending the money for the art project over and over again. Cuts will be happening all over the state but to a much lesser degree in A2. One need only look at Grand Rapids where they raised their income tax last year but still laid off police and fire and where they face a much bigger deficit than A2. Maybe look at Troy or Royal Oak. Jackson, certainly not on the level of A2 had 3 fire stations on Jan. 1, 2011 but voted a couple of weeks ago to close two of them. They cut 2/3 of their fire stations. Fact: A2's budget problems are a fraction of what the county faces (2.5% VS 10% to cut) or what other leading cities face. Police and fire have grown to be over 50% of the city's general fund budget because other areas have been cut first and PD & FD benefit costs are going up much faster than other city areas. Bottom line, by any measure Ann Arbor is holding up better than any Michigan city in the great recession and all the cuts in state revenue sharing. And they have not raised taxes, still just 27% of the property taxes paid and with 40% of the land as non-taxable.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Since the current model of raising revenue does not seem to be working, maybe it is time to think outside the box to find new sources of revenue for the city, like a city income tax. This way then at least we can collect some revenue from the 30,000 plus users of city services (buses, roads, police, fire, etc.) who benefit but don't currently pay for them.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

The city does not have a revenue problem The city has a problem because it spends too much. There is more than enough revenue.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

You're not Leigh Greden in cognito? Are you?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Who voted for the City Council and Mayor? It's obvious that they have their priorities wrong! I voted NON-DEMOCRAT and plan to keep voting that way!


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

@Craig "But so does response time increase dramatically when the fire truck near my house goes to Kroger's or Hiller's to do grocery shopping" I believe the fire dept usually does there shopping at the times that runs are the least likely to occur. How would you have them get their groceries? Have everyone bring sack lunches? This is not a valid argument. The problem in times like this is in order to make our point all of us tend to get off base with our arguments. Dec. 17, 2010. The City of Ann Arbor seeks to hire a consultant as Administrator for Public Art. What? This is just one small example of how the powers that be don't get it!

Jim Deakins

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

Keep the firefighters and police! Period. Ann Arbor is a safe good place to live and work because of THEM. Close the golf club, stop the new city-hall building. Make other cuts. It is crazy to think that we needed to have our side streets plowed repeatedly down to bare pavement. Charge UM more for whatever services they are using. Think again and get back to the budget drawing board. The new city hall is such a waste of money.

Joel A. Levitt

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

As revenues decrease, we have no choice but to reduce services, even public safety services. The best response is to increase revenues while reducing the burden that we place on those already in dire financial straits. This can be accomplished by voting for an appropriate referendum amending the Michigan Constitution. Here is a sample of appropriate referendum language. WHEREAS, excise taxes impose the greatest burden on those who can least afford to pay them, they being often those who have profited least from the advantages provided by our state, and sin taxes don't work. WHEREAS, property taxes are vestigial artifacts of former times when property was the best measure of wealth, and they are least effective at raising public funds during hard times when many become unemployed. WHEREAS, present taxes fail to recognize that certain individual expenses are required if the income earner is to be able to work. WHEREAS, present business taxes bear so heavily on new and struggling businesses that they cause them to discharge productive employees and even cause them to fail. Be it resolved that the Michigan Constitution will be amended to: 1. eliminate all current state and local taxes; 2. permit the imposition of a graduated income tax, and 3. establish a statewide graduated tax on the net income of all Michigan businesses and residents, net income being income in excess of those amounts needed to earn income, which in the case of income earning individuals includes reasonable amounts needed to provide adequate shelter, adequate food, adequate clothing, medical care and education for the income earner and the income earner's dependents.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

$30 Millon in increased revenue since 2001. Guess I'm just not smart enough to understand the 'advanced' math where that's a decrese. Especially after the city has drastically reduced it's workforce. Not an income problem. The city has a spending problem.

Joel A. Levitt

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

BornNRaised: The reduction has been in state revnue sharing and is soon to be in property taxes.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

"As revenues decrease"... so then you're not aware that since 2001-2009 the city has taken in $30 Millon more in revenue than in 2001. Unless the city is using "Enron Accounting Practices", tell me where the decrease is???


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Seems the sheeple have caught on.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

I think if you asked taxpayers their priorities for where their tax dollars go, police and fire services would be at the top of the list (along with other basics like garbage and recycling removal, snow plowing, etc). Shouldn't City Council also put those at the top of their list and NOT cut basic services first whenever there's a budget shortfall???


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

The "core business" philosophy at Ann Arbor City Hall has gone astray. Core services are being eliminated along with their providers. Meanwhile, administrative costs are increased through annual raises, and/or added jobs. This model is one often seen in the private sector in the form of failing business. High-paid administrative staff is maintained and/or increased, while those that actually perform "work" are eliminated. The "work" they perform is also eliminated. However, once the work and product are eliminated, the administrative positions are no longer needed, and the company folds. It is apparent that City Government is top heavy and disproportionate for service levels provided. In successful business models, core services and missions are identified. Administrative positions only support core business, and are deemed overhead. Unless they efficiently support core service, they are reduced or eliminated. Administration does not add value in terms of service provision. It should be the first area of targeted cuts. We are used to the call for decreased services and service providers from City Hall. Instead, we need to focus on streamlining administration and salaried positions. If cuts are to be made, they should made in administrative and salaried areas first.

Steve Pepple

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

A comment containing an unverified allegation has been removed.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Everyone is going to complain that their department should not be cut. Bottom line is police and fire make up over 1/3 of the total budget. Here's a novel idea. How about all the police and firefighter's agree to reasonable cuts to their pensions and healthcare and maybe a 3-5% paycut. They can approach city council immediately to come to the table. Otherwise, they will once again be throwing their newest, most vulnerable co-workers under the bus. If we cannot trust them to treat their co-workers with good will, how can we expect them to treat their customers and employers ( the taxpayer) with good will ? Won't happen , so much for being called "public servants", that name should probably go away since it is no longer true. Good Luck

try your best

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

So is this another 3-5 percent cut to fire, on top of the 3% pay cut and 1% more to pension they did last year? Where does it stop? If all union employees have the same pension and health care(which i think they do) how come we are only hearing about police and fire employee's and not the rest of the union employee's? Sounds like frazier and the mayor are doing a good job of shaping the discision the way they want it.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

Well, that might solve this year's problem, but when you encounter a deficit next year, do you do the same thing? Another 3%-5% pay cut and more "reasonable cuts" to pensions and health care? What about the year after that?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Thanks for your solution snoopdog. That would be a great idea! Give concessions to save jobs. Why didn't we think of that a long time ago... oh wait. We did give 4% and still were hit with layoffs. Better yet, we were the only department in the city to give concessions and the only one hit with layoffs. Please continue to submit more good ideas.

Bertha Venation

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

Of course a pretty fountain and mural artwork are more important to Mr. Mayor and City Council than our safety.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

@Craig. Do you have a job? Is it an 8 hour/day job? Then you get one hour for lunch. Firefighters work 24 straight hours. So, that's 3 times the work you put in one day. Anyone with common sense can do the math and say, "Well, that should give them 3 hours to eat." We get 20-30 minutes to go get our supplies so that we can get back to the station. All our meals are AT the station. So instead of taking 180 minutes for meals, we get 30. Clearly you're aware of how many meals THEN go ruined by responding to 911 calls. Do you get to run errands when you're on lunch, leave your work for an hour and unwind, do you have to drop what you're doing and keep working? I thought not. But you continue to bash us no matter what we try to do. You must be the same guy who glares at us when we smile back. Have a wonderful day, and wave to the guys down the street from you at Station 4.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

You made your bed sleep in it. No one is forcing you to be a fire fighter. I am glad for your service but if you are unhappy quit . I am sure there are a multitude of others who would jump at the chance to replace you. That is just reality. Private industry has had to negotiate the same economic forces . People are glad to have any job. You are not winning any support by making yourself out the victim. Try starting your own business and meeting expenses and a payroll.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

steve h, I don't have a problem differentiating between responding to a call and going grocery shopping. My reasoning is that when possible the fire department should mitigate the chances of a slower response. You can spin it any way you want.

steve h

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

Hey Born, quit trying to reason with craig. You will never change his mind. old dogs can't learn new tricks. with his reasoning, you should just sit in the station and have the POTENTIAL to have a low response time because every time you leave the station you are increasing response times for someone else in the area.

John B.

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

BornNRaised: Hard-working rank-and-file Public-sector employees are just the latest Republikan bogeymen. (It's not illegal immigrants anymore - the talking heads change their minds a lot). Please keep that in mind when you vote.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

LOL Snoop. You call stating facts being on a high horse? Interesting. Craig. You stated that "we don't care about your safety because we're at the store." I'm trying to educate you as to WHY we're at the store, how long we spend there, and how much time we spend back at our home station. If you call that attacking you, then I'm sorry you feel that way. If pose a statement of our profession based on zero facts and nothing more than personal opinion. Who's really attacking who? I attempted to inform you with facts. I can see how well you received them.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

Your bitter response makes my point. Rather than address my response time concern you personally attack me, asking me questions and providing the answers. So be it. I understand you work 24 hour shifts. For whatever reason its what your "industry" seems to have settled on. I understand it makes it a bit problematic to pack 2-3 lunches instead of 1. But it doesn't change the fact that it would take much longer to get to my neighborhood from Krogers than it would from the station. Thats not disputable. So in the spirit of asking a question and providing the answer, do care about response time? I thought not.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Good one BornNRaised, no one in the private sector works an 8 hour day anymore. A typical day is 10-11 hours, so get off your high horse.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

It's hilarious that people that have never run anything larger than a household think they could have done a better job running the best-run city in Michigan. The Case-Schiller house price index shows we're headed for a 'double-dip' in house prices (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Metro Detroit hit a new low and continues to fall after the federal housing stimulus briefly helped increase prices. Property tax revenue will continue to fall along with housing prices. Healthcare costs rose somewhere in the neighborhood of 9% last year (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Somehow healthcare costs continue to rise, though core inflation is just above zero. So revenue keeps falling while costs keep rising. No surprise that something has to get cut. I wish people would stop harping on expenses that happened years ago. That's like trying to save money by taking back that vacation you took two years ago.

Mike Martin

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

@John. Or maybe the City of Ann Arbor isn't properly lowering the SEV and taxable value of homes to reflect the market the way they have in your municipality. Perhaps they are waiting instead for each homeowner to actually take up the issue with the appeals board knowing most won't. That approach would be prudent when facing these budget issues - just not fair. My point was arguing that declining home values in Ann Arbor is pinching the city is mostly a red herring. There are clearly budgetary issues. But, they are not the issues of cities all over the country where property taxes have plummeted do to declining values.

John B.

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

@Mike: My Real Estate taxes have dropped twice in the last few years, as SEVs and Taxable Values have fallen locally. Maybe your place is holding its value better than mine because you bought in the City of Ann Arbor where 'everyone' says is such a crappy place to invest/buy a home/live/run a business/exist?

Mike Martin

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

@KJMClark - I am not sure who is preparing your tax bill. But, my City of Ann Arbor property tax bill has not gone down a penny since the whole real estate crash developed. $16,000 a year and holding steady. Perhaps Ann Arbor is &quot;the best run city in the state&quot; because the assessors office is doing everything it can to keep us paying at the same level despite falling values. This city just collects more revenue per capita. So, at least until we see some property tax relief based on falling values, the concept of &quot;double dip housing recession&quot; is meaningless in Ann Arbor.

Steve Pepple

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

An inappropriate comment has been removed.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

"It didn't matter which station it was, to a degree it was going to lengthen response times," he said. "If there was a fire, lengthier response times means more damage.&quot; I agree with the above statement from the article. Clearly closing fire stations will increase response time. But so does response time increase dramatically when the fire truck near my house goes to Kroger's or Hiller's to do grocery shopping. So the way I see it the Fire Departments concern for response time is mostly about about job security and not about my safety. As a citizen I would be more willing to go to bat for the firefighters if I thought they really cared about me, but they don't.

steve h

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

Hey Craig, your argument doesn't hold water. What if a fire or serious accident occurs in the Hiller's lot? Pretty quick response time then. what say you? How about you turn down the dan fogelberg cd in your town car and get out of the way of the fire truck next time so their response times come down a little more

try your best

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

Craig, I agree the fire company should stay in their area. Is it reasonable to demand they sit in their station and wait for that call. What if they are training and there is a delay by a min or two getting on the road. Does that mean training should be no longer allowed because it could cause a delay. Not trying to be argumentative just making a point that there is not a perfect answer to response times. With all these reductions in police and fire have the taxpayers received any tax reductions or rebates. services are going down but the city is finding ways to spend all the money still. to me that is the elephant in the room...and they have us talking about response times.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

I should add what I have said in another post... i don't want the fire department cut. I want them bigger....because I'm selfish, I want them to come if I call. I just don't like the &quot;response time&quot; argument coming from the fire department because i think its strictly self serving. I honestly believe if they cared about response time they would grocery shop before their shift.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Truth, I see a bigger picture. For instance when they are at Krogers they are in Pittsfield township I believe 3-4 blocks from a Pittsfield township fire station. Thats not a wise distribution. When they are at Hillers I argue the response time to get out of the store, out of the parking lot and on to Washtenaw Ave is considerably longer than from the fire station on to Platt Rd. It isn't just about me. Its about general response.

try your best

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

So lets be clear, you are only worried about YOUR house. Because they are really close to other areas while they are at these grocery stores. So do they not care because they are sitting in their station and further away from these grocery stores? I guess prespective is everything.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

&quot;Craig I have an idea.Why don't you go to your local station,take a collection,get a list and go do their shopping for them ? your problem would be solved' I suppose that would be one solution. I could grocery shop for the fire department 7 days a week in hopes that they could respond more quickly to an untimely emergency .


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Craig I have an idea.Why don't you go to your local station,take a collection,get a list and go do their shopping for them ? your problem would be solved

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

KenUm, It was not my intent to make a comparison between closing a station for 24 hours vs a run to the grocery store other than to point out in both cases response time is compromised. Yet I am expected to accept a food run as a risk that is unavoidable. But what if a house in my neighborhood catches fire when the truck is at Kroger's? Thats a chance we are &quot;forced&quot; to take because, the bottom line is the fire department doesn't really care. If they did they'd figure another, less convenient, but safer for the citizens, way to get their 2-3 meals to work.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Craig, I understand your frustration; but really think about the impact that is the basis of your statement. The Fire truck at Kroger's or Hiller's is there for what maybe 20-30 minutes? A Fire Station that is closed for the DAY is for 24 HOURS. The crew that is on the job for 24 hours at a time make 1 run to the grocery store to pick up food for 3 meals. The shopping trip to the grocery store is comparable to the Fire Truck being out of the station on a run. I fail to see the comparison.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

Lets see: 23.1+13.8 = 46.9 of a total budget of 81.45 so police and fire are 57 percent of the total budget. To hold these two departments harmless (no cuts) in a 4 percent cut to the total budget means a 9 percent cut to other departments. Because the salaries and benefits are such a high percentage of a local governments budget the choices are simple: 1) Cut people 2) Cut salaries 3) Cut benefits 4) Combination of 1, 2 and 3 The Michigan Civil Service Commission has shown they are not going to let cuts in benefits stand (remember the 3 percent contribution Teachers and others had to make to retiree health care, the Commission reversed the law, so they all get the money back). So you are left with (1) or (2). Good luck.


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Wow... are you the financial manager for the city? Let's try 23.1+13.8=36.9 That equates to 45%. And that's 45% of the General Fund. Keep in the mind that the purpose of a general fund is to provide core services. Police, fire, streets, water, sanitation. If you are one of the people that call parks, golf courses, pools, and a new city hall a core service, then you'll buy into the statements being made by the city. If not, maybe it's time to speak at a council meeting.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

&quot;23.1+13.8 = 46.9&quot; oops. wheres that edit button when you need it?


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

Here we go again!!.Public safety is threatened!. And I mean threatened!.Our Police Chief Barnett and Fire Chief Lanza have to act more like Chief financial officers rather than Chief's of they're respective departments?.And I will reiterrate from a past comment of mine.How much does the City of Ann Arbor pay a New York firm for processing tickets issued by the city?.If my memory serves me right .80 cents on the dollar..Revenue that could stay in A2?.Enough to cover the shortfall of the budget or close?YES,YES,YES!!!!..The Mayor and Council could care less about the Police and Fire Departments..Is there cuts in other city departments?.What kind of benefit package does City Adminstrator Roger Fraser have?..Golden parachute like the last one!.Council and the Mayor will never learn it's a power trip for them...Geez will you please investigate Ann Arbor.Com!!!..


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

So the city is facing a $2.4M shortfall. The fountain cost how much again? And the Mayor wants to keep open Huron Hills Golf Course while giving it another chance to lose even more money? Meanwhile, the public safety of our citizens could be compromised by forever cutting these two departments.

Bertha Venation

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

VERY Well Said, racer!

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

"It didn't matter which station it was, to a degree it was going to lengthen response times," he said. "If there was a fire, lengthier response times means more damage. It doesn't matter which station, there will be an impact to the community." Thanks Mayor, thanks members of Council, who got us to this point with their incompetent priorities over the past decade.