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Posted on Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 6:24 a.m.

Jayne Miller's departure leaves Ann Arbor officials with big shoes to fill

By Ryan J. Stanton

One of Ann Arbor city government's top administrators is leaving next month for greener pastures - literally.

Jayne Miller, administrator of the city's Community Services Area and an employee of city government for more than 20 years, has accepted a job as executive director of the Brighton-based Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority.


Jayne Miller

City Administrator Roger Fraser announced the news to the Ann Arbor City Council Monday night. He said Miller will leave her post sometime in mid-February.

Miller's departure leaves the city with big shoes to fill. She has been in charge of a department that provides a variety of direct services to the Ann Arbor community in three separate service areas - community development, parks and recreation, and planning and development.

"Jayne has been responsible for most of the services where people come to us looking for things that involve them personally, so you have parks, you have personal home improvements that require permits, you have housing issues - all of those things are part of her bailiwick," Fraser said. "And we've been going through lots and lots of change and Jayne has been fully instrumental in executing a lot of positive change for our community, and to replace her energy, her knowledge and her enthusiasm, it's going to be tough."

In her new job, Miller will be responsible for oversight of 13 Metroparks covering almost 24,000 acres that serve about 9 million visitors annually. The parks are located along the Huron and Clinton rivers, providing a greenbelt around the Detroit metropolitan area.

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is a regional special park district encompassing Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston counties. It was approved in 1940 by residents of the five counties and is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners. Two of the members are selected by the governor, and the other five are selected by the board of commissioners in each county.

The Metroparks are funded principally by a property tax levy limited to one-quarter of 1 mill and by revenues from vehicle entry fees and other user fees.

Miller's departure adds one more bullet point to a growing list of city management positions that are vacant or about to become vacant. Most notably, the city's planning manager and fire chief both left the city this year - positions that remain vacant. Assistant Fire Chief Greg Hollingsworth also plans to retire next month.

Fraser said the city is considering all of its options as it looks for ways to best manage city government with fewer bodies. The city is faced with a multimillion-dollar budget deficit this year and next that almost inevitably will require major service reductions or layoffs.

"We're reconsidering everything that we've got in front of us," Fraser said. "The question is - if you don't fill a position, what are the alternatives? And that's what you have to evaluate with each of those. Some have viable alternatives and some will not. We're asking the organization to endure some significant changes in the months to come, and I think that we have to demonstrate in everything we do that we're committed up and down the organization to making those sacrifices."

Miller most recently has been involved in work with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission on a plan to revamp business operations. A number of suggestions coming out of that process will be shared with the City Council at a special work session scheduled for next Monday night at city hall.

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


Paul A.

Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

To Milvervox I have no idea how long you have been in Ann Arbor, but in the late '70s the Mayor appointed a Bicycle Coordinating Committee to help work on and design some of the bicycling infrastructure that Council thought was important for a university community, help with bicycling safety issues, etc. Part of the Committee's recommendations was to bring on board a Coordinator who had the day to day expertise to work with the Planning Department,Parks and Rec, Transportation etc.. The fact the Ann Arbor is now has a national Silver (I believe) rating among all us cities regarding alternative transportation systems, is in part due to the work that the Committee and Jayne did laying the foundation many years ago. I don't think you have made a case for "her screwing things up", other than this being your personal opinion, which of course is your right to express. Some of us who have had some experience working for public entities, know how impossible it is to satisfy everyone's idea of what is "right" given the many publics that need to be served. Again, my suggestion is to get involved by putting yourself in a position to affect change and to be willing to take the heat from those who do not think you are serving their interests. It is a humbling experience.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

Jayne Miller's smile and positive attitude will be missed by many, here in AA. Best of everything to her in a less critical environment.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

If she worked for the city for 20+ years will she get a large pension from us on top of her new salary?


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:03 p.m.

Two things: @a2grateful: You can't be serious in wondering why Fraser has stayed so long. You know he gets more and more money each year based on being a hatchet-man, right? He tried to get to say he hasn't had a raise in 4 years in a recent article. All semantics. He may not have had a base salary increase, but he has gotten a lot of bonuses. One example would be the way he recently bargained for a bunch of extra days that he got to cash in and take as pay. This is only one example of the many non-cash benefits he is given so that he can claim to not take a raise yet pad his own coffers at the expense of everybody below him. @Paul A. : You can't say that she came from a different background and then absolve her of any responsibility for screwing things up when she took a promotion and added responsibilities. If she wasn't comfortable running other things than parks she could have used her very assertive voice and said "no". Instead she took added responsibilities (and increased pay). She made he bed and she should be forced to sleep in it. The fact that she came in as Ann Arbor's "second bicycle coordinator" speaks volumes about all kinds of mismanagement in this city.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

Well I wish Jayne Miller luck and hope she can laugh at the negative comments as part of the internet age where people are full of criticism. It would be one thing if it was constructive, but much of it seems uncivil. So thank you for 20 years of service Jayne and know some people wish you well.

Paul A.

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Thanks for the correction; my wife already mentioned it. But, what about running for Council? Seems you have much to say and might be willing to solve the City's problems.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Uh, Paul, get it right. That's the PMQ not the pmg!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

I have no doubt that Ms Miller will be a good administrator for Metroparks. That's where her experience is. Good luck to her and the Metroparks. I wish them well. But after being promoted by Roger Fraser to be Public Services administrator and fit his "bubble plan", her record, for most everything that didn't concern Parks and Rec and a few instances there as well), has resulted in the disintegration of some of our most valuable public services at a time when good management was sorely needed. She's not responsible Fraser's decisions, but she was complicit and in full agreement with them. As was city council. All one has to do is look at the current situation. If anyone thinks that PADS is better or more efficiently run today than it was 5-6 years ago, please raise you hand. It's a bad joke and everyone knows it. It's not the fault of the rank and file, front line employees. Dead fish rot from the head down. The PMQ thing is laughable blame game that does not hold highly paid bureaucrats accountable or responsible.It's a typical city hall management charade that has now come to the blogs courtesy of city hall apologists. It's easy to blame the politicians. I do it all the time. But in this case, it's the internal corporate structure and it's bureaucratic management that has failed. Jayne Miller was part and parcel of that structure and management style.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

I can not believe that the Metroparks does not have someone more quailified in their own company rather than hiring outside - the Metroparks are supposedly "family orientated" - but now you put the ball in a stranger's hands - what a slap in the face of the employees at HCMA - good luck with that one.

Paul A.

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

It seems Moose has a real problem with anything concerning the administration at the City level. Perhaps he/she should consider running for Council and helping those poor lost souls find their way out for the pmg. From my perspective, Jayne has in the 20+ years I have known her, always been courteous, encouraging to the citizens with whom she has interacted, and has always stepped up even when she was outside her comfort level. She comes from a parks and recreation background (she was recruited to come to Ann Arbor as it's second Bicycle Coordinator) and will do an outstanding job for the MetroParks.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.

Actually, it IS Fraser's goal to privatize, contract out and hire more consultants for most of the bureaucratic processes. Look at his record! Could it be that the reason he sticks around is he has reached the top of his Peter Principle, has a great contract with the city including all his perks, and the job market for administrators doesn't look so right now?


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

I'd like a2grateful to provide instances of the laughable, new blame game acronym (the PMQ! lol) that blames elected officials then allows public servants, highly paid bureaucrats, to skate without taking responsibility or accountability for their actions. It's all the fault of the PMQ'ers! ROFLMAO!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

Sorry, Moose. I support Roger Fraser. He's stuck in the pmq as deep as anyone. I'm amazed he's stayed as long as he has.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

What choice did she have in the pmq? Each of your examples is a pmq nightmare. Do you think she had the power to right the Y fiasco? What about Lower Town? What about the demoralized City Hall? She did that? The pmq robs good employees of their opportunity to perform well. Who will the pmq blame when they are the only ones left to drive the garbage trucks and snow plows? Oh. That's the goal? Privatize it all? No more City service. Just bureacracy. I'd run to a new job, too. Best wishes to Ms. Miller!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

Moose. You hit the nail on the head!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : noon

Or either she was fully cognizant of the consequences, was a loyal "soldier" and didn't care. Essentially a2grateful is faulting Roger Fraser, the "Master of the Bubbles", who designed, instituted and takes full credit for the reorganization that has resulted in the disintegration of some of the most valuable public services in Ann Arbor. Blame council all you want for micromanaging, but they're Hieftje's lapdogs and follow his lead with a hands off attitude towards Frasers management policies. What council is far more guilt of is a "see no evil" attitude and complete lack of 20/20 oversight.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

@a2grateful. No she didn't design the systems, but when she was given the ball, she willingly ran with it with little regard or comprehension of the consequences.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

Nice try. Ms. Miller did not create the system she served. The true blame (if that's where we really want to go) goes to the pmq system.

Deb Anderson

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

Maybe we can get Santa back at the annual Vet's Park holiday skate, instead of "Frosty the Snow Person".


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

Jayne Miller was in way over her head when Fraser appointed her to manage Planning and Development Services. She had no interest and no experience working with building contractors, developers or design professionals at the planing or construction level. As far as her management skills, lets look at the record. She was the point person for the old Y fiasco that resulted in a surface parking lot and no development on that site Ditto for Lower> When she took over managing the old Building Department, it was a financially self supporting entity and for decades actually returned (illegally) money to the General Fund. Now that is has been "reorganized" on her watch and guidance, it is disintegrating and employees are completely demoralized. She was the top manager for The Farmers Market while the seller/vendor scandal raged and continues unresolved today. She was the point person for the voter rejected Emerald Ash Borer tax millage that was based on massaged "facts" that overstated the costs, leading some to believe that it was a way to get a few more dollars into one of the city "buckets". She was the prime mover for selecting and purchasing Etrakit, a million dollar software system that still does not work the way it was intended. Contractors and staff hate it. BTW, it was chosen over a widely used, far less costly municipal software package made by a Michigan company. She managed the Golf Courses that lost money for a decade when council was told that they were self supporting. Add to that the liquor license fiasco and proposed 19th hole bar at Leslie. After making these "messes" she demonstrates her loyalty to the people of the city of Ann Arbor by walking away and leaving them for someone else to clean up.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:41 a.m.

Don't be fooled. Ms. Miller has been one of the friendly faces at City Hall for many years. She was an excellent administrator and public servant. Her biggest shortcoming was the political micromanaging quagmire, or pmq (aka mayor/city council/dda), that she served. She was the Community Service administrator. Her job may be viewed as obsolete by the pmq, as they are no longer focussed on our community, service, or community service. The $1mil statue and the unneeded underground parking garage are proceeding as planned. These types of self-serving projects, and the pmq environment, will continue to drive many productive and valued employees from City Hall. How much do you think we will be charged for garbage pickup? And how much is the permit that I need to purchase in order to contract having my own street plowed? Start thinking about these questions, courtesy of the a2 pmq!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

Well Thats one maybe all the other city employee's are seeing the city crash coming. I do not blame any of them for leaving.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

If the Community Services Department oversees community development, parks and recreation, and planning and development and if each of these "sub departments" has a leader who reports to the Community Services leader then maybe we have a few too many fearless leaders.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

I'm betting we see some creative restructuring, perhaps putting more emphasis on the finance side of city government operations.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

After running Planning and Development Services onto the rocks here in Ann Arbor, Huron Metroparks will be a good fit for her.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

It seems that the Fraser/Heiftje Plan for more work for less pay IS reducing the budget.