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Posted on Tue, May 22, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Police and fire spared further cuts as Ann Arbor city budget wins approval in 8-2 vote

By Ryan J. Stanton


Ann Arbor City Council Member Jane Lumm had little support for budget amendments she was hoping the council would approve Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

After years of staffing cutbacks in police and fire, the Ann Arbor City Council voted 8-2 early Tuesday morning to approve a city budget that begins a rebuilding process.

"We got to where we wanted to be," said Mayor John Hieftje. "We did not, in fact, reduce safety services. In fact, we increased funding there, and that's a big advance in one year."

The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 — approved toward the end of a meeting that lasted six and a half hours — includes a $122,270 general fund surplus.


Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said the city isn't out of the woods yet and next year could be a tougher budget year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Across all funds, the budget shows $404.9 million in revenue and $382.4 million in expenditures, including $79 million in general fund spending.

One full-time police officer position is being added, putting the department at 119 sworn officers, plus five part-time officers are being hired for a new recruit program.

"We're starting a recruit program that will really help us downtown," Hieftje said. "And also it means that as officers retire or leave the job for other reasons, they can immediately step in so that we don't have this overtime-causing thing that happens when people leave unexpectedly or when they retire and it takes time to replace them."

A proposal sponsored by Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, was approved before the budget passed. It calls for hiring six more firefighters if grant funds become available.

That would bring the department up to 88 firefighters, which Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard recently identified as his "magic number."

But the council didn't go as far as to provide a backstop and say that the city would fund the six firefighter positions if grant funds don't come through.

Council members Mike Anglin and Jane Lumm voted against the budget at 1:30 a.m. following the defeat of several amendments they were backing.

Lumm wanted to increase the number of firefighters regardless of whether state and federal grant funds are available and suggested cutting high-speed rail monies. That idea was shot down, as was Lumm's proposal to hire five to 10 more police officers.

The council voted 7-2 against Lumm's proposal, which called for adding 10 more officers if a federal grant is awarded to the city and five more if it's not awarded.

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, was the only to vote in support of Lumm's proposal. Anglin had stepped away from his seat when the vote happened.

"We do need these police officers," Kunselman said.

Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, went home sick partway through the meeting and didn't vote on the final budget, but she did vote on some earlier amendments.


"It's very hard to see the lift, if any, that's provided by this program," Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, said before the council voted to eliminate the city's contract with RecycleBank.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Hieftje argued against Lumm's plans, saying there wasn't enough money in the budget for what she proposed and that crime is trending downward anyway so there's no emergency.

Lumm's police staffing proposal called on the administrator to make additional cuts to the budgets for mayor and council, public services, human resources and 15th District Court.

"While I think we'd all like to have a few more police officers, I'm not willing to put this kind of stress on all the other budgets to see that that gets done," Hieftje said.

"What bothers me about it is adding people that we may not be able to support in the coming years," he added. "We're already looking at having less revenue next year."

Lumm, an independent who was elected to council from the 2nd Ward in November, expressed disappointment in her colleagues for not supporting her budget amendments.

Her proposal to restore fall leaf pickup and holiday tree pickup services also suffered defeat in a 7-3 vote, with only Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward, and Anglin joining in support.

The city's staff indicated the recurring costs to restore both services would be $300,484, and another $383,000 would be needed to purchase two street sweepers.

Other council members said they didn't see tree pickup as a vital service, and they cited concerns with the fall leaf pickup program, saying it clogs up city streets with leaves and that hidden objects buried in leaf piles have damaged the city's equipment.

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, attempted to zero out the mayor's and council's $6,500 budget for conferences and travel, but only Lumm joined in support. Other council members argued the money is rarely touched, but it's important to have when needed.

Lumm and Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, won support for an amendment to use nearly $50,000 in general fund surplus money to maintain human services funding at $1.24 million.


Council Member Sabra Briere's resolution to get rid of the RecycleBank recycling rewards program passed 8-3.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Briere's resolution to get rid of the RecycleBank recycling rewards program also passed by an 8-3 vote. Council Members Christopher Taylor, Teall and Derezinski said they weren't sold on RecycleBank yet, but they were in favor of keeping it around another year.

Others agreed with Briere that there's not a big enough benefit to the city to spend more than $100,000 a year for the next 10 years on RecycleBank.

"It's very hard to see the lift, if any, that's provided by this program," said Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward. "It's not working for us as we planned."

There's a $107,200 one-time cost associated with eliminating the program, so it's just about break even for the next budget year, but there will be savings in future years.

An attempt by Lumm and Kunselman to reduce the city's public art budget by $307,299 was defeated with no other council members supporting the proposal.

They wanted to eliminate about $185,000 in transfers to the art fund from the water, sewer and stormwater budgets, as well as $122,500 in expected transfers from the street millage.

Kunselman's proposal to generate extra local funding for fire staffing also was defeated in an 8-3 vote with only Lumm and Anglin joining in support.

Kunselman wanted the Downtown Development Authority to follow an interpretation of city code that would call for the return of $659,771 in tax-increment financing dollars to local taxing jurisdictions in the next year, including $199,360 to the city's general fund.

Hieftje suggested Kunselman was using the DDA as a political punching bag and said he could end up delivering a blow to the city instead.

Taylor won support for his proposal to restore a 15th District Court secretary position that was slated to be eliminated. The position added $76,193 in costs to the general fund, but most council members agreed it was necessary to maintain quality services at the court.

Lumm argued the district court missed its budget reduction target by $212,000 and she didn't want to give the court a free pass on that.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

If the mayor and the concil were more concerned with police and fire than artwork, the cuts would never have been as deep as they were. Who is kidding whom here???


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

what a joke. shoot down other because not enough money. YET they keep art as it is. a joke of what the city needs vs spending money on art!. i for one think the art commission funding is the biggest laugh we can have. good luck and happy spending.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Mr Mayor, how many more squads have to crash responding to crimes clear across town do we have to pay for before you decide that we don't have enough police on any given day to adequately patrol and be available? PS please leave before you further embarrass yourself. We don't like your generic koolaid.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Wow, the administrator recommends a balanced budget and the council sticks with it and doesn't overspend, no tax increases again, but still most of what you read on this blog is negative as usual. We are so lucky to be in Ann Arbor, a shining city with low crime and good services, a fantastic downtown, awesome parks, etc. Now that they have federal money for the Stadium Bridges the roads are being fixed, people will finally be able to park downtown, the police are in an actual station instead of a moldy basement, etc. This city is always moving forward, even in the toughest of times. In an editorial a while back praised the city for budget discipline and not raising taxes and said other cites and school boards should follow A2's lead. Very rare for a newspaper to do that. But here on this blog the council could come up with a cure for cancer and most would complain about how long they took to do it.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

No, more police will not stop all crime. Crime has existed in every society since the first man picked up a rock. Do not attempt to relate my statement to this extremist nonsense. Having said that, a well-policed community will experience less crime than one that isn't. This is because for most people, everything in life can be measured on a risk/reward basis, and when something is too risky to justify the reward, and petty crime isn't worth it if there's a good chance the perpetrator will be caught. If shoplifting carried the same $20 penalty as marijuana possession in this town, there would be more shoplifting. People ignore the traffic laws, or willfully break them, because the risk of getting caught is low, and the penalties are relatively minor if they do. Therefore, as the police force is stretched thin, the crime rate will increase, because the old adage that "crime doesn't pay" will no longer be true. When crime pays, you get more criminals. Of course, with fewer police available, there tend to be fewer reported crimes, because there are fewer officers to take reports. Eventually, people just stop reporting petty crimes, and the politicians pat themselves on the back for "lowering the crime rate."

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

SMC, you really think more police would stop all crime? You believe more police will stop all break in's? Guess you want a cop on every corner? Check the data, more police do not equal less crime.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

The 40 or so residents of Ann Arbor whose homes were invaded in the first 3 months of this year would disagree with you, Gale.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

I disagree SMC. If you look at the FBI crime numbers you see that crime is down in Ann Arbor long term but also in the nation as a whole.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4 p.m.

The low crime you love so much was brought to you by a well-funded police department, which was able to have a more visible presence in the community, thereby deterring crime. Well-funded and properly staffed police departments are also able to proactively fight crime, instead of just reacting to it, because there aren't enough officers on the road at a time. Unfortunately, those days are gone, because the mayor and city council believe that the crime rate will remain low, and our city safe, if we all simply wish for it harder.

Ron Granger

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

"using the DDA as a political punching bag." How about a DDA art project? Normally I don't like placing art near city hall. But in this case, that is the perfect location. My vision is hanging a large "DDA Punching Bag" right out front. Citizens could step right up and punch the snot out of it! As an incentive, there would be a realtime display above the bag of DDA spending and extorted monies. There would also be a counter of the number of total punches. Probably something that also reports the force of the hit. Finally, technology from our fine university would harness the energy from the tremendous frustration and recycle it back into the grid. We could probably get a million dollar grant based on that feature alone. Can I get a public art grant to produce this? I figure I'll need a $100K. I think I can have it done by Art Fair. I shall call this the DDAist art movement. Born out of the horrors of the DDA.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Love it lol! Get a prototype set up and set it up at the "green fair" the mayor presides over in a couple weeks I think it is ;-) The DDAist display can also mention how much we love the irony, given that this is a 'green' fair and all, that the art in front of city hall requires upkeep and is the lighting on the thing solar or not dammit?!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

When elections come in November, be sure to vote out the existing council members that are only political puppets to the mayor. Without the puppets, the mayor will have little power to continue his agenda. Ann Arbor needs to move forward rather than continuing down the current path. If the mayor and council cared at all about the citizens of Ann Arbor, they would have voted to reduce or eliminate the art funding at least temporarily as a gesture to indicate they were being fiscally responsible. As evidenced by the meeting, something as simple as eliminating $6,500 from the mayor and council budget eluded the majority of council members. Ann Arbor can only hope that new members like Lumm will be joined by other new members in November and free the city from a council that hears only what they want to hear.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Well Mr. Mayor, are you patting yourself on the back for increasing safety and security funds? But why have you wasted so much money in the past? The doesn't erase all the mistakes you and the council have made. Need more independents on the council to make smart, reasonable, and common sense decisions.

Dave Gear

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

The art discussion is just tiresome, over and over again. has published here many times as fact that the money that goes to art could never have been spent on police and fire. They even said it in an editorial. (Except of course for the $50 K.) It's clear now, no money from the general fund goes to art. Give it up finally.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

oops. didn't see your post @brad! ...and what you said too ;-)

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

It's the same issue really as the "conference money" suggestion from Briere, on a larger scale, so it shouldn't be surprising. Small small amount of money, but Briere apparently thinks it's 'unseemly' for us to be taking austerity measures with some services and claim administration needs to travel to conferences. Of course, conference travel *can* be useful and important (if there is one coming up on how to manage construction projects or conduct city council meetings, I suggest they go for it !). And art *can* be 'useful' and important, but I think there are a lot of valid concerns about *how* it's being done and *that* it's being done at all via monies from some funds anyway, like street repair, lordie, we've had to suffer with awful streets that the city won't own up to forcing us to live with for too long! People realize (in many cases) that the money for art couldn't possibly (well...okay, never mind ;-) ) go to safety...


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

That's not the only issue here. I feel that the council is improperly skimming money after the fact from voter-approved millages (not counting the recent sidewalk millage). If they want their art money, just put it to a vote. How can anyone argue with the democratic approach?

Dave Gear

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I agree with Mr. Granger. A2 is a very safe city compared to just about any other city, especially those with a big university. Plus you have the UM police with 65 officers armed and ready, so two police forces, not one. The city administration and council have done a good job budgeting over the last ten years . A2 is in a position now where they are hiring police and fire fighters to replace those who left and in the case of police, even add a few. Very few cities in this state and not so many in the nation can say that. If the grants come though or the state finally ponies up what they owe the city will get to 88 firefighters. All good.

Dave Gear

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

Obviously false Thug, there haven't been any murders in Ann Arbor for quite some time. Check the FBI stats. Rape are obviously off too.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

well Ann Arbor might be pretty safe crime per caps ...but hope all is well on mayors street because invisible boarders dont stop crime....anyway we should add Ypsi to ann arbor city limits so they anyway the the low rates tooo..... Most Dangerous Colleges 2010: 2, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, Michigan Total enrollment: 41,674 Criminal Incidents (most recent 3 calendar years): Murders: 1 Negligent Homicides: 0 Forcible Rapes: 119 Non-forcible Rapes: 0 Robberies: 83 Aggravated Assaults: 225 Burglaries: 230 Car Thefts: 142 Arsons: 20 (Corrects earlier data.) oh well. just eat around beger ...Ann Arbor is still good..


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Replace those who left? The city has not been rushing to back-fill all the firefighters that were laid off or retired, and last I checked they weren't re-hiring. Also, remember last year there was a string of sexual assaults with no arrests. Meanwhile they have frittered away monies on unwanted (and most recently unreachable unless you go through a metal detector) art, a horrible idea called "recycle bank", studies for convention centers, good lord, the list goes on. If you think the state is suddenly going to come through with money to get Ann Arbor back to the MINIMUM standard for fire protection, you are sorely mistaken.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

The Mayor and Council members are out of touch with what is really going on in this City. There needs to be a change this year.

Dave Gear

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

RE "punching bag" . I think the mayor was quoting an article in the Ann Arbor Chronicle that said Kunsleman was "using the DDA as a political punching bag." Hard to argue with that.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

I'm sorry, does it make it okay if there are reporters/article-writers at the Chronicle that also disagree with Kunselman's negative view of the DDA?! The Mayor's job is to quote editorial content at City Council meetings instead of to take suggestions about how to interpret city code seriously?! Do the councilpeople get to make accusations back lol?! I guess the fact that the phrase appears in the Chronicle doesn't make it 'hard for me to argue with' that ;-)

Ron Granger

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

@Ranzini: "We will instead have this money pile up and sit, doing nothing. We like the idea of extracting money from the citizens and then doing nothing with it. We like the idea of not providing critical services rather than strategizing ways to drain these buckets!" -- Having a surplus means not going bankrupt in tough years. If more towns had kept a surplus in good years, instead of "strategizing ways to drain these buckets!", they would have been much more fiscally sound. The constant drone to fund police for safety is just preying upon people's fears and the illusion that more police will stop crime. It ignores that crime has decreased, even if the internet means we get more frequent and detailed reports of crime (without buying a newspaper). There will always be crime. If they spent every last dime, as you suggest, on fire and police, I think we'd read future comments that they irresponsibly spent too much. The suggestion that they need to "strategize" (sic) ways to spend all reserve money, and then have no reserve, is absurd. Recall how much replacing the Stadium bridge cost. It's like saying you have saved a hundred dollars and must think of a way to spend it rather than save it for future needs or emergencies. Our economic "recovery" is extremely tenuous, especially in Michigan. Many don't feel it will last, if it is even real.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

@Ron Granger: the city doesn't meet the general accepted national standards for fire safety response times and has had a far higher level of deaths than the similarly sized communities in SE Michigan. If six more fire fighters were budgeted and 12 more were actually hired (they continue to refuse to hire all the people budgeted), and they keep open all five fire stations, they could meet those standards, according to the fire chief. I am tired of the Mayor's "experiment" with public safety! Cut out the fluff like conferences for the Mayor, contracts like Recycle Bank when you have the opportunity to eliminate them without termination fees, cars and gas allowances for executives who live out of town and drive their own vehicles anyway, generous lunch expense accounts, the list is endless!! Overall the city projects it will MAKE $22.5 million a year and we can't afford $480,000 a year to meet our fire safety needs?? The crazy bucket system is used to magically find money for pet projects and blamed when they want to say "sorry, we just don't have the money."

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

They sure used to have bike cops downtown...I think they were eliminated when the mayor decided he was "comfortable" with ending the beat cops expense in general ;-) ? Yes, I felt like their presence was useful and pleasant. I haven't seen any in years, but then, I don't go downtown very much anymore... There used to be a much heavier "community-oriented" police vibe around here, and I surely don't know the full history of changes in the police department, or how much of it has come from outside the department itself (via budget cuts).

Ron Granger

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

In regard to police, I don't know how much A2 uses bicycle cops. But for much of downtown, I think they are entirely viable and have many advantages. One of those advantages is lowering costs. Bike cops work great for fighting crime and interacting with the community. They work great in large cities, so the size of A2 is a non-issue. Obviously they can't cover everything, and that is not the focus. So I ask whether the AAPD has moved sufficiently in that direction. I'm not sure they have, or haven't. My impression is that they have not.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I agree, by the way, @Ron Granger, and don't have a problem with the city maintaining a good amount of rainy-day money. I realize that asking the cops and firefighters to tell us exactly how many they feel they'd need to be comfortable about the responsiveness may lead to overestimates, as well. But independent studies should be made, and I believe that in the case of firefighting standards, some have been done. And that it seems we need better coverage, no? On police, the issue is less clear as I understand it. I'd like to hear the mayor say more than "crime is trending downward" and more about how we are fine given guidelines, given standards recommended or enacted. If the mayor has good evidence that we're fine, or that we're close to it, on police coverage, I'd expect him to share this with the citizens, instead of leaving it up to us, we who are so easily influenced by seeing stories on the ever-present channel feeds! Agreed...make it *analysis* based and solid and real and citizens will also be more likely to "feel comfortable" with the level of police presence!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

We can only fix this at the ballot box. PLEASE, Ann Arbor, THINK before you pull those levers or fill in the cute little circles this November.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

...and when City Council refuses to even discuss the illegal gag order placed by the city leaders on the fire fighters preveting them from expressing their very real concerns about safety to the press, they aren't even following democratic principles, let alone Democratic principles!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

The typo should read "preventing them" Sigh


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

How does this guy keep getting elected? Is this what the citizens of Ann Arbor really want? Are bad streets, poor services, flooded basements, high taxes, insufficient police and fire protection "politically correct"? Are the citizens of Ann Arbor so committed to being liberal democrats that they'll continue to close their eyes to what outsiders can clearly see?


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

I haven't voted for Heifte in years. I've come to believe that voters elect officials based on "name recognition" for the most part. I was so PROUD when Rapundalo lost to Lumm in the 2nd Ward. He was Heifte's right hand man on all the issues. Proud of Lumm for pushing back.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

"Hieftje suggested that Kunselman is using the DDA as a political punching bag and said he could end up delivering a blow to the city instead". To me, the most telling line of this meeting as reported. Perfectly showcases the scandalous way *the mayor* plays politics, and plays with governance via this silly DDA arrangement--silly, underhanded, and unaccountable. That he would have the gall to accuse one of the Councilpersons who dares to voice the opinion of *many people* in this town-- that the DDA's role in this city is wrong-- of *playing politics* is sort of amazing really... even if it is (merely and barely) masked by Hieftje's general contempt for those who don't agree with him, Kunselman being one in particular it seems to me!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

B2Pilot: I think the term you are looking for is DINO, Democrats In Name Only...


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

WOW the cartel continues to amaze me and the fact citizens of this city continue to endure their allegiance to special intersts & their political buddies is shocking. I thought democrats represented the blue collar folks? Actions speak louder than words they have no connection to working class citizens; NONE. they are not representing the citizens of this city what a shame, this city was nice before they took over and it will one day be nice again after they are gone. The sooner the better Disappointed!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

@Brad: City Council could have cancelled Recycle Bank when the contract came up for renewal last year, but unfortunately they opted to renew it again. Now we have to pay a termination fee to get rid of it.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Oops. "unless the money was NOT available in the budget to pay for it."

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

I was informed just now by a member of city council that they couldn't terminate the contact without paying a fee because the contract didn't allow an early out without penalty unless the money was available in the budget to pay for it. The city administration could have suggested a way to cancel the contract without penalty, which would have been to defund the contract in the budget that was approved prior to the cancellation window last year. Under the terms of the agreement if there was no money in the budget, it could have been cancelled without penalty. Unfortunately the city administration did not suggest this to council on a timely basis and by the time the issue came up, it was too late to cancel it without a penalty.

Linda Peck

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

I believe our Mayor must have a very nice security system and of course we know he is well protected at City Hall. His comments about crime trending downward do not match what I read in The Observer and here at I do agree that if crime were heading downward, to add stress to the budget for the coming years would be a mistake, but the trend seems to be upward, not downward.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Correction: The delicious fruity beverage we were going to serve has been re-appropriated for the Mayor's lunch meeting, to discuss the conversion of Ann Arbor into an culturally-diverse self-sustaining wheat-and-peanut free ethnic peace bicycle factory. Instead, you will be served Kool-Aid brand powered fruit-flavored beverage instead. We apologize for the inconvenience. Correction: Due to budget constraints, the Kool-Aid brand powdered fruit-flavored beverage has been replaced with a generic equivalent, called "Flavor Aid." We are certain you will not notice any appreciable difference in taste. Welcome to Hieftjetown.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

It's simple: fewer police officers means a reduction in reported crimes, because you can't have crime statistics without police reports. Sort of like how reducing the available roadway will make traffic flow smoother. Don't bother trying to understand the council's logic, it will just make your poor head hurt. Just sit back and enjoy this delicious fruity beverage.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Why is it going to cost $107K to *end* the RecycleBank program? Seems to me that it did not live up to its billing, so why does it cost anything to be done with it?

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

"Lumm argued the district court missed its budget reduction target by $212,000 and she didn't want to give the court a free pass on that." Why did they go over budget? Why isn't t his any issue for to follow up on?


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Because it doesn't involve dramatically smearing the hard working public servants who keep us safe, and earn overtime pay while doing so.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Lumm and Kunselman are the only two people sitting on this council that I trust.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

About time you came to your senses.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

More of the same. And it will stay the same as long as the same people are on council. Therein lies the problem. Right now it appears that the mayor will run unopposed again. We're screwed.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

The mayoral opposition appears to be only a few malcontents incapable of organizing. Boy, I'm glad they are where they are. Now, if only they'd shut up.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Maybe we can offer a retirement incentive and then find an interim...

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

@Gale Logan: If a vote of the citizens restricted the $22.5 million surplus that will add to the $100 million + pile of cash that sits idle doing nothing, then could a vote of the citizens remove the restrictions on the funds?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

@Gale Logan: You are incorrect. According to the footnotes to the city's audited financial statements, a very substantial sum is restricted only by the vote of city council, which can be undone. Some money is restricted by city charter and the voters can undo that, and yes, some money is restricted by state or federal rules.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

@Dave Gear: Any documents you can refer me to, I'd really appreciate it! You can also email any documents to my email at

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

With all the posting you do it seems like you would have found this out for yourself. I did. Those are state accounting rule restrictions on the funds. Voters could not undo without running into deep legal problems.

Dave Gear

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Having spent some time looking into this, no, the restrictions on the funds come from the states fund accounting rules. Voters can't undo it.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Where are you Gale?

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

The facts are that no more than $50 K ever went into art and that was years ago. Since then, the ordinance was changed and no general fund money can go to the art fund. Even if the art fund were dissolved or never existed, no more than that same 50K could ever have gone to police and/or fire. But then the facts have never slowed you down before.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Sorry pilot, none of the money could have gone to the general fund. None of it came from the general fund.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Gale "They wanted to eliminate about $185,000 in transfers to the art fund from the water, sewer and stormwater budgets, as well as $122,500 in expected transfers from the street millage" and I think this is general fund monies, perhaps not directly but it ends up indireclty in the art fund despite your denial. Add to that the line item on each and every project budget for 'Art' money doesn't just grown on trees

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

"Across all funds, the budget shows $404.9 million in revenue and $382.4 million in expenditures, including $79 million in general fund spending. The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 ... includes a $122,270 general fund surplus." Translation: the city budget plan calls for an overall surplus of $22.5 million. Because the city has created so many dedicated funds ("buckets") that the General Fund is now only a tiny piece of the overall city operation, we cannot properly fund fire and police services at the actual level required, despite the fact that this should be our number one priority. We will instead have this money pile up and sit, doing nothing. We like the idea of extracting money from the citizens and then doing nothing with it. We like the idea of not providing critical services rather than strategizing ways to drain these buckets! Some say that the buckets cannot be drained because they are legally restricted. If the buckets cannot be drained without a vote of the citizens why isn't *that* being put to a ballot for us to fix? Well, probably because our Mayor thinks this way: "Hieftje argued against Lumm's plans, saying there wasn't enough money in the budget for what she proposed and that crime is trending downward anyway so there's no emergency." and because he is "comfortable" with the current level of staffing in the fire department. FYI, yesterday, the police chief told me, "overall crime, when compared to the same time period last year, it is up."


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

Let me see - leaf/tree pick up, art vs. safety in numbers for AAFD and AAPD.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

In retrospect, RecycleBank was a fiasco and seems to have been a back scratching deal. Costs more to turn it off than have it for a year!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Yeah. Really a terrible, terrible idea. So obviously stupid from the get-go.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

The city just does not get it - safety first. Election time coming up -- folks need to begin to think about alternatives.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:36 a.m. missed the reporting boat once again but fortunately we have the Ann Arbor Chronicle on the case: "At its May 21, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to increased rates for drinking water, sanitary sewer and stormwater. According to the staff memo, the impact of the increases on an average single family customer come to 3.21% across three different rate increases – assuming the same level of consumption as last year. That 3.21% increase works out to $19.40 per year. Because the water and sewer rates are part of a city ordinance, the council will need to vote a second and final time on the rates, after a public hearing." Now this little bit of reporting makes more sense: "An attempt by Lumm and Kunselman to reduce the city's public art budget by $307,299 was defeated with no other council members supporting the proposal. They wanted to eliminate about $185,000 in transfers to the art fund from the water, sewer and stormwater budgets, as well as $122,500 in expected transfers from the street millage."


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

"Hieftje argued against Lumm's plans, saying there wasn't enough money in the budget for what she proposed and that crime is trending downward anyway so there's no emergency." "While I think we'd all like to have a few more police officers, I'm not willing to put this kind of stress on all the other budgets to see that that gets done," Hieftje said. Wow! Ann Arbor residents, I present your mayor. Art is more important than public safety after all.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Remember folks, it is election year and many of these politicians want to be reelected in November.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:23 a.m.

"While I think we'd all like to have a few more police officers, I'm not willing to put this kind of stress on all the other budgets to see that that gets done," Hieftje said. Yeah, no bid contracts for recycling to your political buddies, 'art' you need to go through a metal detector to view and and financing your 'train station' political slush fund project. We wouldn't want to 'stress' the rest of the budget.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:19 a.m.

It appears the only members of Council with any courage are Lumm and Kunselman.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

I particularly like her attempt to cut the high-speed rail monies just now! I am not against the idea of better public transportation, not at all, but Fuller Road is *so* not the place for the station Hieftje's fantasizing about! Given the way streets roads and logistics of traffic are mishandled by this administration, I am sure that the project would be a disaster with now-obvious and later-realized unintended *bad* consequences for the city and its citizens! It would merely be 'slush fund' scandalous if all the consultant and 'project exploration' monies ended up wasted on a project that never gets the required full funding; that's what I'm hoping for!