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June 06, 2011 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-06

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Monday, June 6, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Ann Arbor approves budget for 2012 fiscal year

City Council cuts
funding to police,
fire departments
Daily StaffReporter
The City of Ann Arbor
approved a budget on May 31 for
the 2012 fiscal year, which includes
cuts to the fire and police depart-
ments and amendments to various
public programs and services.
City Council member Sabra
Briere (D-Ward 1) said the newly
approved budget deals mostly with
moneys allocated to the general
fund, which is primarily used to
pay administrative and operational
expenses such as paying the sala-
ries of members of the police and
fire departments as well as for vari-
ous forms of upkeep around the
The approved budget will
eliminate 30 fire and police depart-
ment positions - most of which are
currently empty - including five
police officers and five fire mar-
shals, Briere said. Retirements,
however, may save positions so
only two active members of the fire
department and four active mem-
bers of the police department will
be laid off, she said.

Briere said there was also a
debate within City Council over
an ordinance that passed provid-
ing 1 percent in additional funding
to the city's Public Art fund, which
Briere said the council viewed as
"a community driver ... and some-
thing that (could) increase eco-
nomic competition."
Briere added that the approved
budget will likely have both posi-
tive and negative impacts on the
city, including ridding the com-
munity of debt while potentially
threatening the needs of its citi-
"The city budget will ben-
efit from this approved budget,
because it's cleared its balance and
people know to some extent exact-
ly what we're spending money on,"
Briere said. "The city may find that
shrinking city government doesn't
meet all of the needs of all the peo-
ple living in the city."
City Council member Stephen
Kunselman (D-Ward 3) said trans-
ferring $86,000 from the general
fund balance to the human services
fund helped to lessen the effects of
significant cuts to the human ser-
vices account that were previously
made. The human services fund -
which would have been reduced by
9 percentin funding - gives money
to local, non-profit organizations,
a service that Kunselman said is

"Ann Arbor is one of two cit-
ies across the state that actually
provides funding for various non-
profits for helpingwith human ser-
vices," he said.
An additional $7,000 from the
general fund balance was used to
allocate funds for a third primary
election - where he and two other
council members will be up for
reelection, he said.
Kunselman added that the
council - in a 6-to-5 vote - agreed
to provide an additional $90,000 to
the Parks & Recreation fund, spe-
cifically recreation.
Kunselman acknowledged that
cuts to the police and fire depart-
ments could affect the city, adding
that the cuts to these departments
"are significant concerns." Howev-
er, he said the current state of the
economy calls for these measures.
"We're also in a time with our
world and the economy, where it's
just not much that we can do," he
said. "We cannot borrow money to
pay for staff, we have to have a bal-
anced budget by law."
Kunselman said the budget
cuts do not represent a positive
circumstance for the city of Ann
Arbor, but added that a optimistic
outlook on the situation is needed.
"I don't think we can describe
any of this as positive, but I think

we can definitely represent our-
selves as being stoic and hope for a
better day in the years ahead," he
The newly approved budget
represents the main "priorities"
of the city, which Kunselman said
is generating revenue, He added
that a parking agreement with the
Downtown Development Author-
ity would allow 17 percent of
parking revenue generated to be
allocated to city general funds.
Susan Pollay, executive direc-
tor of the Downtown Develop-
ment Authority, wrote in an e-mail
interview that the DDA said the
agreement with the city is part of
an effort to help the city amid a
struggling economy.
Pollay added that a major issue

surrounding the current financial
struggles is the issue of property
taxes, citing the University as an
example of an entity exempt from
payment of these gainful taxes.
"As an illustration, the U of M
has approximately 20 percent of
the property within the city limits,
and since the U of M is a nonprofit
it doesn't pay anytaxes," she wrote.
Pollay wrote that the approved
budget for the city of Ann Arbor
is directly correlated to the funds
provided by the state of Michigan.
"This year, on top of all the
other issues facing the city, the
state of Michigan passed a bud-
get that significantly reduced the
amount of state shared revenues it
will give back to the cities," Pollay



People enjoy the weather and flowers at the Nichols Arboretum Peony Festival on Friday, June 4.

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