Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Budget Woes

21. February 2007 • Juliew
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Ann Arbor Public Schools Invites Community to Budget Forums
Superintendent Todd Roberts invites Ann Arbor Public School parents, staff and community members to attend a forum on the state of the district’s finances. At these sessions, Superintendent Roberts, along with Deputy Superintendent for Operations, Robert Allen, will give an overview on how public school districts are funded, the district’s revenue projections and an overview of the district’s budget. They will also facilitate small group sessions in which attendees will be asked for input on district priorities and funding recommendations.

The remaining Ann Arbor Public Schools budget forum is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 21 in the Huron High School cafeteria at 7:00pm. A reader points out that the Ann Arbor news has a brief overview of last night’s meeting.

City Police, Fire and Emergency Management Reductions
Layoffs and other service reductions in the City of Ann Arbor’s Safety Services Unit (Police, Fire and Emergency Management) may go into effect for the 2007/2008 fiscal year budget. More information is here.

Input can be submitted via the City of Ann Arbor’s Web site at or during one of two Town Hall meetings scheduled in April:

  • Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 p.m., Clague Middle School, Media Center, 2616 Nixon Road.
  • Thursday, April 5, 6:30 p.m., Slauson Middle School, Media Center, 1019 W. Washington.

  1. Thanks for this. I think the biggest problem facing schools is to make the quality education offered here available to ALL students. Make it equitable. We can do this.

       —JennyD    Feb. 22 '07 - 04:44AM    #
  2. This is material from Karen Sidney, a local attorney/accountant.

    Below is the link to 2008 and 2009 city budget information presented to the council finance committee. Feel free to share the information.


    Finance and Administrative Services – Pages 4 and 5 show the huge increase in retiree healthcare and pension contributions caused by the 2001 early retirement program. Actuarial reports show these amounts will continue to increase. The number of city retirees has increased by about 1/3 because of the early retirement program and now taxpayers are getting the bill. Pages 7 and 8 show that the city is cutting about 2 million more from the 2008 budget than needed to balance it. 2008 projected revenue is 80.2 million but targeted 2008 general fund expenses are 78 million. This $2 million surplus is included in the budget for the proposed police/courts building.

    Finance and Administrative Budget Impact Analysis – Page 1 shows the city administrator is losing a 46,000 position. What it does not show is that the administrator’s 2008 budget is 25% more than actual 2006 spending. The top takes care of itself.

    Safety Services Presentation – Page 12 shows that the fire department is putting off purchasing new vehicles. In 2005 the fire department paid 761,000 to the fleet fund to set aside for new vehicles. The parks department paid a similar amount. The only reason there is not money for new fire vehicles is because the fleet fund sent 1.6 million to the city hall building fund.

    PAges 19 through 22 show the breakdown of police expenses. The 2005-2006 figures are actual spending and the other figures are budget figures, which include the proposed cuts. If you do the math, you see that 2008 fleet charges are 46% higher than actual 2006 charges. Charges for transfers are up 21% from 2006 to 2008. Transfers are mostly charges for IT services. Prior to 2005, the city provided IT services to the whole city for about $3 million, including about $1 million for equipment. Now the city says it costs about twice that amount and is charging departments accordingly. There is now $3 million sitting in the IT fund waiting for some pet project.

    Safety Services Budget Impact – At the top of the page there is an entry for $250,000 in revenue from the new parks millage. In theory, the police are going to assign personnel to parks duty. Either, the police are going to reassign officers doing other tasks to patrol the parks or the $250,000 is for something they are already doing. A reassignment means there are even more cuts to police protection. Getting paid for services already being performed means the parks millage is being ripped off. There are rumors the city will recommend closing parks facilities at the next council finance committee meeting, despite voter approval of a parks tax increase.

       —David Cahill    Feb. 23 '07 - 01:21AM    #
  3. Related to the equitable education issue, has a post entitled let’s blame the teachers ; Ypsilanti School Board member Cam Getto has a post on his blog entitled, If the playing field isn’t even, can you call it ‘competition’? that discuss this question significantly. (Mark’s more in the comments than the post.)

       —Murph.    Feb. 23 '07 - 03:51AM    #
  4. David: In regard to your post #2, there are statements that don’t add up. In the first paragraph about “Highlights” from someone named Karen. For example: I wrote my council member sometime back about this and found out that in fact 95% those who took the early retirement program the city offered in 2001 would have been retired by now anyway, without the program, so the retiree health care bill would be the same anyway. (Police and fire personnel can retire young, this was the first wave of the baby boomers.) In Saturday’s article on this subject it was clear that the stock market set backs in the early part of this decade hit the fund hard but that the pension system is still not what is driving the costs, it is the health care. In this regard the city is in the same boat as corporations and governments across our country, in fact it sounds like A2 is actually in much better shape to handle this than most cities according to the auditors. The actually have a plan and $60 million in a fund to pay for it.

    I have always felt that the early retirement program was one of the best things the city ever did. It cleaned out a whole bunch of entrenched senior bureaucrats, top heavy with officers, police and fire departments and allowed the city to reorganize. They are saving something like $10 million per year in wages now. If they had laid people off they would had to fire the junior people who had the tech skills and the sometimes corrupt holdovers would have stuck around a few more years at their high wage.

    In paragraph 5 “there are rumors the city will recommend closing parks facilities at the next council finance committee meeting” this was obviously made-up out of whole cloth. The meeting came and went with no such action recommended.

    This makes me suspicious of the rest of this.

    Laura B

       —LauraB    Mar. 7 '07 - 04:09AM    #
  5. Laura B, Karen Sidney was talking about the Council finance committee, not the Council as a whole. I don’t know what is happening in this committee, but I am sure that we won’t have final word on just how bad our fiscal situation is until closer to budget time, which is May.

       —David Cahill    Mar. 7 '07 - 04:51AM    #
  6. An update to this entry from March… The City has decided not to offer early buy-outs to senior personnel, but has instead opted to demote the younger lieutenants (3) back to sergeants, and then demote the sergeants (5) back to officers thus saving the City about 80k a year. I, like many that work for the City, fail to see how retaining older personnel outweighs the benefit of retaining the younger, more dedicated, better trained personnel. I think that the emotional impact of this move will have a lasting impact on those officers whose careers were quashed just so the City can save 80k. The proposal also includes the lay-offs of 13 civilian personnel. I have been trying, but I fail to find the logic in this move…

    Ann Arbor

       —annarbor1us    Apr. 11 '07 - 07:48PM    #
  7. One possible reason is that it is too expensive to offer the enormously generous retirement package that goes to city personnel to that many at this time. Taxpayers in AA will be swamped paying for retirement benefits for years to come….

       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 12 '07 - 04:30AM    #
  8. Since there seems to be a dislike for government employees with seniority, especially those that might have significant and expensive retirement benefits, why don’t we just put time limits on city employment, say four years at the most. They could be tested annually for performance, and if they fail, they’re gone. Ta-dah! Problem solved.

       —jcp2    Apr. 12 '07 - 08:19AM    #
  9. I love city employees. It’s the retirement benefits that have me counting my pennies.

       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 13 '07 - 01:17AM    #