The Ann Arbor City Council met Tuesday to discuss proposals regarding contract renegotiation with the union representing Ann Arbor police officers, temporary child care benefits and affordable housing projects.
Assistant City Administrator John Fournier briefed the council on the tentative agreement between the city and the police union.
Some key changes to the contract with the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association include giving the chief of police complete control over training; allowing the chief to suspend an officer without pay for up to six months and waive progressive discipline in instances of excessive use of force or mishandling of a weapon; and offering union members 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
“It should also be noted that the police department policy already states that termination is the presumed discipline when it is found that an officer intentionally lied in a statement or a document,” Fournier said.
The police officers’ union and the city will continue bargaining on a resolution to be able to amend disciplinary decisions once they are made. Council is scheduled to vote on the contract at the next meeting. Fournier said the union also declined to bargain on a proposal to release officers’ personnel information to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission.
“We do think we have the legal ability to disclose police officer names through the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) process,” Fournier said. “However, I think it’s important for us to use this power as part of a strategy to get a mutually agreeable solution with the union.”
ICPOC Chair Lisa Jackson said the commission is working to ensure accountability among police officers in the union.
“We regret that the union did not decide to show us police names, but we are very clear that we do understand the FOIA process and we are going to continue to work towards transparency and especially accountability,” Jackson said. “We’re also engaged in a robust discussion with the police chief and police department regarding the new AAPD and U-M collaboration and the mask enforcement processes.”
Sworn officers from the Ann Arbor Police Department will no longer patrol the University of Michigan campus with the Michigan Ambassadors to remind students of public health guidelines following community backlash. Now, unarmed Division of Public Safety and Security staff will work alongside the ambassadors.
Jackson said the ICPOC is also collaborating with the AAPD on creating more inclusive protocols for interactions with transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people.
The council moved to a discussion of a resolution to appropriate $580,000 to a temporary Child Care Benefit fund serving Ann Arbor city employees.
Councilmember Jane Lumm, D-Ward 2, said the resolution gives each city employee up to $500 per month to put toward child care. Lumm said this resolution could help keep city employees working through the fall.
“The other benefit to the city of offering this benefit is that with offering this alternative, many employees who would otherwise have opted for the (Family and Medical Leave Act) paid leave option will remain on the job,” Lumm said.
Fournier highlighted the difficulty of managing online learning for children and a full work schedule, explaining that it is more expensive to replace workers who choose to take advantage of Family and Medical Leave Act benefits. Currently, Ann Arbor Public Schools are beginning the school year remotely.
“We’ve been hearing consistently from our employees throughout the summer a lot of anxiety and a lot of concern about their ability to do their jobs and have children at home,” Fournier said. “We do have some concern about what the longer-term budget impacts might be for us if we have to bring on temp employees and contracted services to maintain our operations throughout the fall.”
Mayor Christopher Taylor also endorsed the plan, noting the importance of taking care of city employees.
“I’m delighted to support this, I am so grateful that staff has brought it forward,” Taylor said.
The resolution was passed unanimously with 11 votes, satisfying the eight vote requirement.
The council then discussed a resolution to approve an affordable housing agreement at 1140 Broadway.
Councilmember Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, said he disapproved of the high cost.
“It’s a very poor deal for the city when you look at providing a unit and the per-unit cost,” Hayner said. “It’s about $100,000 more a unit than if we acquired property and built them ourselves.”
The resolution was passed in a roll call vote, the only “no” vote coming from Hayner.
The council also held a public hearing to discuss the short-term rental ordinance to amend Title VII of the Ann Arbor City Code, adding a new chapter to regulate short-term rental businesses. The ordinance would potentially preserve the status of short-term rentals already existing in residentially zoned areas, create a licensing and regulatory infrastructure for these businesses and prohibit new short term rentals from operating in residential zones.
Following the public forum, councilmembers discussed the ordinance, with some in favor of tabling it for a future meeting and some ready to vote.
Councilmember Chip Smith, D-Ward 5, spoke in support of tabling the ordinance, saying he was concerned about offering legacy status to certain rental homes and giving these owners and properties a monopoly.
“What I hope we would come back with is to simply cap the number and create the licensing and registration process,” Smith said. “I think what I’m most concerned about the approach we’re taking now is even if we get to a point where we grandfather these in, that is awarding great reward to the folks that are here now. It is giving them quite a bit of a monopoly but more importantly, it doesn’t allow any changes for these units to move around the city.”
Councilmember Elizabeth Nelson, D-Ward 4, said Ann Arbor is a community for residents, and residents who rent property benefit from that.
“I do not believe that Ann Arbor as a community is primarily a tourism destination, I really do believe that we are a community of residents,” Nelson said. “We’re talking about the benefits of somebody who every day is working in our community and maybe can walk to work.”
Lumm spoke in support of the ordinance.
“Given the fact that short-term rentals have never been expressly permitted, they just happened, I believe adopting this ordinance does not constitute changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Lumm said. “All we do know is that the number of short-term rentals has indeed grown and that every home used for short-term rental is one less unit of permanent housing.”
The ordinance passed with seven councilmembers voting yes.
Daily Staff Reporter Hannah Mackay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org