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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.

Proposed City Budget Amendments for FY2023

The post below originally appeared in my May 14, 2022 newsletter in the "Additional Thoughts" section.


The biggest item on this week’s agenda is final approval of the City Budget for FY 2023. Our last meeting included public hearings for all related fee and rate adjustments attached to the Budget. This week will include discussion of four proposed Budget amendments submitted by Council Members and reviewed by Staff. Below is explanation of those amendments.


For reference, the budget amendments are attached to the item DS-4 in this week's agenda:

DS-4 (22-0699) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2023


This is a direct link to the budget amendment document:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10891617&GUID=4506DD32-1EAE-427E-BD51-4288A1E6C25E


USE OF MARIJUANA EXCISE TAX FUNDS (AMENDMENTS 1 & 3)

Proposed Amendments 1 and 3 direct spending of the $935,336 Marijuana Excise Tax fund revenue recently received for FY 2023. These funds come from the State of Michigan as revenue and are technically “non-recurring” insofar as the amount of money expected year to year is not yet a stable/predictable number.


Last year (March 15, 2021), Council unanimously approved a resolution directing and limiting the use of Marijuana Excise Tax Fund revenue to the following purposes:

  • Emergency Services response that include mental health and substance use disorder professionals;

  • Programs for substance abuse intervention, treatment and recovery support services;

  • Education and enrichment programs for at-risk youth; and

  • Innovation grants toward promoting criminal diversion and expungement, support for formerly incarcerated members of our community, and other criminal justice reform initiatives;

I wrote about it at the time:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/additional-thoughts-mar-13-2021-marijuana-excise-tax-funds


The whole of that 2021 resolution can be found here:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4819759&GUID=C4559926-7EB4-4FBD-9B56-ED17870D4972


Resolutions are typically written in two parts: WHEREAS clauses offering background and context and RESOLVED clauses directing specific action. RESOLVED clauses from resolutions like the one above - directing incoming funds to specific purposes moving forward and in future budgets - are traditionally honored until Council votes to reverse that directive. E.g. Allocations of the Public Safety & Community Mental Health millage rebate toward affordable housing, climate action, and pedestrian safety (the “40/40/20 split”) were established by a 2017 Council resolution; a Council vote to lift those restrictions was vetoed by the Mayor in 2019 and again in 2020.


It is worth noting that Amendment 3 refers to WHEREAS clauses in explaining how the allocations comply with the 2021 resolution. The programs and purposes listed in this amendment are undeniably worthy of discussion and investment. However, to the extent that any specific allocations of these funds might not comply with the RESOLVED clauses in the 2021 resolution, City Council would have to affirmatively vote to reverse the previous directive.


I look forward to substantive discussion about what each of these allocations will support in terms of community need. I am curious to hear, also, how these allocations comply with the Council resolution (approved unanimously last year) regarding use of the Marijuana Excise Tax Fund revenue.


AMENDMENT 1

Sponsors: Nelson and Ramlawi

  • $567,400 (non-recurring) for the purpose of creating a Deflection Program within the FY 2023 City Attorney’s Office.

  • $35,000 (non-recurring) for the purpose of a school backpack and supplies program within the FY 2023 Community Development General Fund budget.

  • $332,936 (non-recurring) for the purpose of Coordinated Funding with Washtenaw County within the FY 2023 Community Development budget.

AMENDMENT 3

Sponsors: Briggs, Disch, Grand, Radina, and Song

  • $572,000 (non-recurring) to establish a Deflection Pilot Program, including gathering data on the population served and success rate

  • $100,000 (non-recurring) for a Public Works Apprenticeship Program for entry-level Public Works positions

  • $100,000 (non-recurring) for Utility Support for Residents in Need through Barrier Busters

  • $75,000 (non-recurring) to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, to provide planning support for the creation of a BIPOC Small Business Development Space on the first floor of 121 E. Catherine Street

  • $60,000 (non-recurring) to the Office of Sustainability and Innovation for the Low-Income Sustainability Grants Program

  • $28,336 (non-recurring) to the Washtenaw County's Child Savings Account (CSA) Program, establishing asset-building accounts for BIPOC and/or low-income children, dedicated for expenses associated with postsecondary education


OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION (AMENDMENT 2)

In Amendment 2, funding for Sustainability Grants are proposed to come from the General Fund fund balance. Note that Sustainability Grants would receive a total of $300,000 if Council approves both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3. I look forward to hearing more information about what, specifically, these Sustainability grants are likely to fund and for how many people/households.


AMENDMENT 2

Sponsors: Briggs, Disch, Eyer, Grand and Song

  • $240,000 (non-recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund fund balance to the Office of Sustainability and Innovation for a Low-income Sustainability Grants Program, in order to help residents pay for some of the upfront costs of improvements to make their homes safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more sustainable.


CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE (AMENDMENT 4)

Funding for the items in Amendment 4 (below) will come from the General Fund fund balance and General Fund surplus for FY 2023. All of these items have been recommended and requested by new City Attorney, Atleen Kaur. This budget amendment is part of Ms Kaur’s current work actively assessing and identifying needs in our City Attorney’s office, and has been submitted by the Council Administration Committee.


AMENDMENT 4

Sponsors: Taylor, Eyer, Grand, Griswold and Radina (Council Administration Committee)

  • Add 1.0 FTE for an Assistant City Attorney to the FY 2023 General Fund budget within the City Attorney’s Office

  • $165,252 (recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund surplus to the City Attorney’s Office for the additional 1.0 FTE.

  • $20,000 (non-recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund fund balance to the City Attorney’s Office for one-time implementation costs for the replacement of CityLaw software.

  • $48,000 (recurring) would be allocated from the General Fund surplus to the City Attorney’s Office for the annual software maintenance costs for the replacement of CityLaw software.