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Elizabeth Nelson's City Council Blog

I write a City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before City Council. Sign up to receive it first via email, or read it here later on this blog.

City Council Newsletter (Feb 19, 2022)

Hello neighbors!

Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City's Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.


This week, our Consent Agenda is quite long but our regular agenda is fairly short. Agenda items MC-1 and DC-1 confirm appointments to the new Ann Arbor Renters Commission. In DC-4, I am sponsoring a resolution on behalf of the City’s Commission on Disabilities Issues (CODI). The CODI would like the state to amend no-fault insurance reimbursement policies; current caps on reimbursement make it impossible for victims of catastrophic injuries to find necessary care.


Agenda item DC-3 is a second attempt to get clear communication from our City’s legal department regarding factual errors in a recent investigation report. At our last meeting, a majority of Council rejected a resolution directing the City attorney to review and correct errors. I wrote about it here:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/investigation-reports-the-new-political-weapon


This week, DC-3 simply asks for a legal opinion about errors that have been identified. Increasingly, these “independent” investigation reports have been used to justify controversial Council decisions, so their accuracy should matter to everyone.

 

SUPPORT MY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN

I am running for re-election to Council in 2022 and would really appreciate your generous support! I need your help to promote transparency, accountability, and serious representation for Ward 4. Our local democracy matters!


Volunteer

https://www.a2elnel.com/volunteer


Donate

https://www.a2elnel.com/donate


Coffee Hours

Sunday Feb 20th 3:00pm

I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. This week I will be holding them on Zoom. Please email me for a link: contact@A2ELNEL.com


City Council Regular Meeting

Tuesday Feb 22nd 7:00pm

Note this meeting is on a Tuesday due to the Monday holiday. Starting in January 2022, Council Meetings are IN PERSON at City Council chambers. Public commentary is still available via phone - see the Legistar link for details.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=931754&GUID=3AAE14ED-DFDD-4178-956B-4C8EBEE96BC7

 

Ward Talk

Thank you to CTN and Bonnie Gabowitz for inviting me to participate in Ward Talk this week! You can watch my interview on CTN's YouTube channel here:

 

Budget Video Presentations

Since our last Council meeting, the City significantly altered plans for budget discussion. Council was informed that the traditional February and March budget work sessions which included public comment have been cancelled. In their place, City staff will be sharing video presentations from various City departments regarding budget recommendations.


I have made a post on my website with this information, and will update as new information is received.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/fy2023-budget-process-update-video-presentations


The first two presentations have been posted to the City's website:


Feb 14th: City Administrator Area, Finance, Police, Fire, Community Services and Courts

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SEXLwmdfyM

PDF Presentation: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-administrator/Documents/FY23%20General%20Fund%20Work%20Session%20Presentation%20Final.pdf


Feb 28th: Pension, Ann Arbor Housing Commission and SmartZone/LDFA.

Video: https://youtu.be/KAg1wE4zrIo

PDF Presentation: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-administrator/Documents/Pension%20VEBA%20Worksession%20Presentation.pdf


For more information, visit the City's "Budget Public Process" website:

https://www.a2gov.org/departments/finance-admin-services/financial-reporting/budget-guide/pages/budgetpublicprocess.aspx


As mentioned on the City website, budget-related feedback or comments are encouraged and may be submitted via email to budget@a2gov.org


 

Arbour On Main (Valhalla) Update

On Thursday, I attended a small stakeholder meeting related to the new development at Valhalla, which was recently renamed "Arbour on Main". City staff have requested changes to a median on South Main in order to address potential safety concerns related to the new development. See diagram below:


Just north of the intersection of South Main and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, the redesigned median will define a dedicated lane allowing left turns for northbound traffic only. The redesigned median would prevent southbound traffic from making a u-turn here in order to access the entrance to Arbour on Main.


I have also posted this information on my website:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/valhalla-arbour-on-main-update-from-feb-17-2022-meeting

 

Learn More About Public Power

This week, Ann Arbor for Public Power hosted a round-table discussion that included state Representative Yousef Rabhi, State Senator Jeff Irwin, and others with relevant expertise on the topic of a municipal, publicly-owned utility. You can watch a recording of that meeting here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVIFJP6XRqo

 

A2ELNEL.com Website Updates

In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.

You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/

City Council Voting Chart for Feb 7, 2022

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-feb-7-2022


Applications for Urban and Community Forest Management Steering Committee due Feb 28, 2022

The city will select three residents to serve as representatives on the committee.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/applications-for-urban-and-community-forest-management-steering-committee-due-feb-28-2022

 

A2COUNCIL Updates (A2COUNCIL.com)

For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at A2COUNCIL.com with summaries of issues and direct links to City documents. For each City Council meeting since November 2018, you can find links to the City's Legistar website, CTN's YouTube video, and links to my newsletters and voting charts. I have listed agenda items of interest from each meeting, along with articles I've written and articles published on MLive.

https://www.a2elnel.com/a2council

http://a2council.com

 

Council Meeting Agenda 2/22/22

Below is my summary of some issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me at my official City email: ENelson@A2gov.org

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=931754&GUID=3AAE14ED-DFDD-4178-956B-4C8EBEE96BC7

Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday Feb 22nd (7:00pm)


City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

 

Questions to the Agenda

In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.

AC-4 (22-0349) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - February 22, 2022

This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

 

Communications from Council


CC-1 (22-0045) Resolution to Appoint Sarah Mason as Representative and Molly Maciejewski as Alternate to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (7 Votes Required)

This is a resolution to appoint Sarah Mason (City of Ann Arbor Resource Recovery Manager) and Molly Maciejewski (City of Ann Arbor Public Works Manager) to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (WRRMA). This will be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Sarah Mason - WRRMA (Representative)

  • Molly Maciejewski - WRRMA (Alternate)

 

Communications from the Mayor


MC-1 (22-0221) Appointments - Confirmations

These appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Kevin Cox - Building Board of Appeals

  • Liam Wolf - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Kristen Cato - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Lucy Peterson - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Zackariah Farah - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Arthur Redmond - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Robert Kelly - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Hannah Cohen - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

MC-2 (22-0331) Nominations and Appointments for February 22, 2022

This appointment from the Mayor is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Christopher Madigan - Zoning Board of Appeals

 

Consent Agenda

Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.

CA-1 (22-0069) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. for General Civil Engineering and Surveying Services. (Additional $190,000.00 for a Contract Total of $490,000.00)


CA-2 (22-0140) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Lester Brothers Excavation Inc., for 2022/2023 As-Needed Directional Boring ($281,800.00, ITB No. 4700)


CA-3 (22-0118) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to E.T. Mackenzie Company for the Third & Mosley Water Main and Resurfacing Project ($1,299,999.25) (ITB No. 4702)


CA-4 (22-0096) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract for Compost Pad Replacement to E.T. Mackenzie Company in the amount of $249,900.00 (ITB No. 4699)


CA-5 (22-0161) Resolution to Award Construction Contract for the Barton Pump Station Valve Improvement Project to Weiss Construction Co., LLC ($4,656,400.00) (ITB No. 4703)


CA-6 (22-0189) Resolution to Approve the Professional Services Agreement with AECOM Great Lakes, Inc., for the Water Treatment Plant Facility Plan 2022 ($5,060,239.80) (RFP No. 20-04)


CA-7 (22-0179) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 3 to the Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc., for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($650,000.00 increase, total contract $1,900,000.00)


CA-8 (22-0248) Resolution to Approve a Grant Application to the USDA-NRCS Lake Erie Conservation RCPP for Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Hamilton Property


CA-9 (22-0249) Resolution to Approve a Grant Application to the USDA-NRCS Lake Erie Conservation RCPP for Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Fishbeck Property


CA-10 (22-0250) Resolution to Approve a Grant Application to the USDA-NRCS Lake Erie Conservation RCPP for Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the St. John’s Property


CA-11 (22-0312) Resolution to Close Streets for the Ann Arbor Goddess 5K on Sunday, April 3, 2022


CA-12 (22-0245) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2022 Take Back the Night/Standing Tough Against Rape (Rally and March) - Thursday, April 7, 2022


CA-13 (22-0313) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Annual Box Car Race/Soap Box Derby - Sunday, April 10, 2022


CA-14 (22-0314) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the Ann Arbor SPARK Tech Trek and Mobility Row on Friday, October 14, 2022 from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM


CA-15 (22-0156) Resolution to Amend the Purchase Order with Boone & Darr, Inc. for On-Call Mechanical Services (Not to Exceed $50,000.00)


CA-16 (22-0258) Resolution to Authorize Payments to Unum Life Insurance Company of America and to Renew Associated Group Term Life, Accident, and Disability Insurance Policies for City Employees and their Eligible Dependents, and to Authorize the City Administrator to Execute the Necessary Documentation ($615,000 in 2022, $615,000 in 2023).


CA-17 (22-0283) Resolution to Accept a Sanitary Sewer Easement at 416 W. Huron Street from West Huron Properties, LLC (8 Votes Required)


CA-18 (22-0284) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at 416 W. Huron Street from West Huron Properties, LLC (8 Votes Required)


CA-19 (22-0224) Resolution to Approve the Board of Insurance Administration’s Recommendations for 2022 Property and Casualty Insurance Renewals


CA-20 (22-0182) Resolution to Adopt the Board of Review Guidelines for Poverty Exemptions from Property Taxation of Principal Residence Pursuant to MCL 211.7u

 

Public Hearings

Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.

PH-1/DB-1 (22-0088) Resolution to Approve the Rothfuss Annexation, 1.49 Acres, 3090 Geddes Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)

A township island of 1.49 acres at 3090 Geddes Road will be annexed into the City. It is within the City's water and sewer service area. Proposed zoning of R1A will be voted on at a later date. This zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and the comprehensive land use plan.

 

Ordinances - Second Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.

There are no ordinance second readings on the Agenda

 

Ordinances - First Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for "first reading". If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting ("second reading"), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.


C-1 (22-0281) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 18 (Employees Retirement System), Section 1:605, Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor To Allow Forfeitures to Cover Reasonable Administrative Expenses

This amendment would add a provision to the City's Employee Retirement Fund ordinance for employees who separate from the City before benefits are fully vested. Currently, retirement funds that are forfeited (due to early separation) can be used to offset City contributions to the Dual Retirement Plan. This amendment permits those forfeited funds to also pay reasonable Plan administrative expenses.

 

Motions and Resolutions

The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked "DC" are proposed by Council members, items marked "DB" are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked "DS" are proposed by City staff.


DB-1 (22-0088) is the same as PH-1 above.


DC-1 (22-0138) Resolution to Appoint Non-Registered Electors to the Ann Arbor Renters Commission (7 Votes Required)

These appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the "appointees are not registered electors of the City of Ann Arbor"

  • Cozine Welch, Jr. - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Dandan Chen - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

  • Richa Mukerjee - Ann Arbor Renters Commission

DC-2 (22-0257) Resolution to Appoint Bridget Gruber and Sara Nedrich to the Environmental Commission

These appointments are from CM Disch and CM Griswold, who serve on the Environmental Commission. These were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Sara Nedrich - Environmental Commission

  • Bridget Gruber - Environmental Commission

DC-3 (22-0310) Resolution Requesting a Legal Opinion to Provide Guidance for City Council to Address the Perceived Discrepancies in Attorney Jennifer Salvatore’s Report of Confidential Investigation of December 7, 2021

In response to factual errors identified in an investigative report conducted by Jennifer Salvatore (published on Dec 7, 2021), City Attorneys would be directed to issue a legal opinion to Council by March 1, 2022.


DC-4 (22-0348) Resolution Urging the Michigan Legislature to Amend the Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform Act of 2019

This resolution comes from the Commission on Disability Issues, and addresses the Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform Act of 2019 that was implemented last July. That legislation reduced the required rate of reimbursement to long-term care and post-acute rehabilitation facilities for victims of motor vehicle crashes. New reimbursement caps have had made it impossible for Michigan residents with severe brain, spinal cord, and other catastrophic injuries to find necessary care. This resolution urges the state to amend this legislation and provide long-term, budget-neutral solutions that enable the continued care of auto crash survivors.


 

Additional thoughts…

This week, the City closed its online survey regarding use of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. I previously wrote about the public engagement sessions and the public survey here:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/american-rescue-plan-public-engagement-sessions-jan-12-20-2022

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/american-rescue-plan-survey-open-until-feb-14-2022


The results of the public survey are here:

https://www.opentownhall.com/portals/116/Issue_11557/survey_responses


Ryan Stanton from MLive wrote about the survey results here:

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2022/02/see-how-ann-arborites-rank-spending-options-for-24m-federal-stimulus.html


From the MLive article: over 2500 survey responses allocated on average the following amounts to thirteen projects:

1. Solar on city facilities — 15.4% or $3.7 million

2. Galvanized water line replacements — 11.7% or $2.8 million

3. Property acquisition for affordable housing — 11% or $2.6 million

4. Gallup Park bridge replacement and road/trail improvements — 9.2% or $2.2 million

5. Vision Zero implementation — 7.7% or $1.8 million

6. Human services funding — 7% or $1.7 million

7. Unarmed crisis response program — 6.8% or $1.6 million

8. Housing for homeless — 5.6% or $1.3 million

9. Universal basic income program — 5.1% or $1.2 million

10. Miller-Catherine bikeway — 3.9% or $936,000

11. City clerk election center — 3.9% or $936,000

12. Net-zero fire station — 3.8% or $912,000

13. Public safety data platform — 2% or $480,000


In the last month, City Council has received a great deal of feedback from the local arts and creative community. They have a concern: the ARPA spending recommendations do not currently include any financial support for the local artists and creatives who make up our vibrant cultural community, residents who have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. If we hope to see Ann Arbor continue to thrive as a regional center for creative culture, advocates tell us that we must intentionally support artists in our community.


I had an excellent conversation this week with Deb Polich, who is the director of Creative Washtenaw and happens to also be married to Russ Collins, director of the Michigan Theater. Ms. Polich educated me about support that is already available and what is still desperately needed. For example, some entities (such as the Michigan Theater) were eligible for and received Shuttered Venue Operating Grants. Likewise, The State of Michigan funds specific work and programs through the Michigan Arts and Culture Council (MACC). What is still needed: local funding to support the survival of artists who make Ann Arbor a unique and vibrant community for residents and tourists alike.


The concerns raised by Creative Washtenaw highlight how and why the City should have led a more transparent process of engagement with community leaders prior to formulating any list of proposals for use of ARPA funds. Serious community conversation should have been the starting point for proposals about the use of these ARPA funds, rather than an afterthought.


Sadly, this process almost certainly would have happened very differently if a majority of Council had not targeted a City Administrator with many years of experience working and collaborating with our local community leaders. The abrupt removal of Tom Crawford marked the beginning of a process that has been less than transparent and not at all collaborative. After his removal, a temporary Acting City Administrator recommended that the City finalize ARPA spending proposals in a matter of weeks, without even the limited public engagement that has happened in the last two months (thankfully, this timeline was extended by Council). Ultimately, a process that should have been more open and inclusive was rushed to exclude both community leaders and most elected Council Members.


I am optimistic about ongoing conversations about the use of these ARPA funds. I encourage everyone to continue to reach out to City Council with any concerns or perspectives you might have. If you would like to learn more about the specific funding request from Creative Washtenaw, you can find it here:

https://creativewashtenaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ARPA-Funding-Proposal-Investing-in-Ann-Arbors-Arts-Creative-Industries.pdf



Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson


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