Monday, July 2, 2007

Parks Spending And Broken Promises

When voters were asked to approve a parks millage increase, they were told the general fund contribution to parks spending would not be reduced more than the general fund contributions to other expenses.

But parks were shortchanged by $1.4 million: streets are defined as parks, the mayor and council, city attorney, city finance department and city administrator each had budget increases of over 15% to 23%. But not parks; and there was a non-public millage change on October, 2006.

Additionally, $900,000 was spent to remove 10% of the ash trees. The city administrator's (Roger Fraser) budget allocates $1400 per tree. more ...

City Council's Broken Pledge

Doug Cowherd, chair of the Sierra Club's Huron Valley Group, comments on City Council's broken pledge

Last year Ann Arbor's City Council put a tax increase to provide additional funds for parks on the November 2006 ballot. Council unanimously passed a resolution stating that if the increased millage passed, then other funding for the parks would not be reduced if the City's general fund revenue increased.

Believing that the Council resolution meant that City Council would not play a game of budgetary "bait and switch" after the election, voters narrowly approved the tax increase for parks.

But only seven months later, eight Council members voted to break their promise to the voters. Despite an increase in general fund revenue for the coming year, Mayor Hieftje, and Council members Easthope, Greden, Higgins, Lowenstein, Rapundalo, Teall, and Woods all voted to reduce the amount of money in the general fund budget for parks. Arguing that Council could not honorably break their commitment, Council members Johnson, Suarez, and Kunselman voted to uphold Council's promise.

Click here for the full meeting with additional citizen comment.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Linda Berauer, chair of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission, speaks about the parks budget charade.

Inside Ann Arbor's Budget

Have you ever wondered why your taxes are so high but the city is always short of funds?
Here are the top 3 reasons:
1. The City moves money by charging $8,500 per employee for IT services.
2. There's also $9.5 million in the fiscal year 2009 budget for the proposed civic center. High water bills and selling off of public property are used to finance this.
3. Parks funds are raided.
more ...