Monday, January 31, 2011


As Ann Arbor officials consider a city income tax as a possible cure to the city's budget woes, Grand Rapids might be the best case study on how such a tax can fluctuate wildly with changes in the economy. "I see a lot of problems with it," said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje. "I look at the experience of other cities, and Grand Rapids lost something like 14 percent of their income tax revenue over the last couple of years. When you have a big recession, property tax revenues might dip 2 to 4 percent, but they don't drop 14 percent like you saw in Grand Rapids." Read the story here. And the sidebar story here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Learning The Ropes

Washtenaw County commissioners Barbara Levin Bergman and Yousef Rabhi, both Democrats representing portions of Ann Arbor, share a laugh at a recent county board meeting. Rabhi, a 22-year-old recent University of Michigan graduate, is new to the board. Bergman has served since 1993. They're focusing efforts right now on addressing a $20 million structural deficit.

The Space Between

Mirror Mirror

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

By Design

Ann Arbor City Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, said during a special work session Monday night he hopes the city's new downtown design guidelines are reviewed over time. The city has rolled out guidelines that spell out a broad vision for future development in downtown Ann Arbor and offer details about various "character districts," including South University, State Street, Liberty/Division, East Huron, Midtown, Main Street, Kerrytown and First Street. Read the story here.

Mike Anglin

A proposal to build a new transit center along Fuller Road was met with some resistance Monday night during a special work session of the Ann Arbor City Council. While some council members, including Mayor John Hieftje, appear to be in full support of the $43 million Phase I project, which includes a nearly 1,000-space parking structure, it's evident some still need convincing — including Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward. "It seems to me that we're moving ahead on something that may not be of service to the community," Anglin said. "I'm not interested in providing parking for the university." Read the story here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Retreat Repeat

City Administrator Roger Fraser says it might be time for Ann Arbor to consider getting out of the business of providing some city services. But that will be for the City Council to decide. "We have sort of an interesting challenge that's still ahead of us," Fraser told council members and other high-ranking city officials during another all-day budget retreat on Saturday. "If we can't afford to do everything we have been doing, what is it we're willing to modify?" Read the story here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Crop

Four newly elected Washtenaw County commissioners and seven returning commissioners were sworn into office Wednesday night. The makeup of the board for the next two years includes eight Democrats and three Republicans — one more Republican than before. New members include Alicia Ping, R-Saline (second picture); Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor (third picture); Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township (fourth picture); and Rob Turner, R-Chelsea (fifth picture). Read the story here.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washtenaw

Conan Smith was unanimously chosen by his peers to take over as chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Wednesday night. Representing the north and west sides of Ann Arbor, Smith, a Democrat, is the third generation of public servants in his family. He is married to state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, and is the son of Alma Wheeler Smith, who recently finished her final term in the state House. His aunt, Nancy Francis, is a county judge, and Al Wheeler, his grandfather, was Ann Arbor's mayor in the 1970s. Smith also is the executive director at the Ferndale-based Michigan Suburbs Alliance. Read the story here.