The Ann Arbor City Council met on Monday to approve the Community Climate Action Millage, or tax, that will be included as a ballot measure in November 2022. The millage is a property tax that would require homeowners to pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in taxable value of their property. From the millage, the city would collect one million dollars over the span of 20 years to raise funds for Ann Arbor’s A2Zero initiative for carbon neutrality.
Following a November 2019 council resolution for Ann Arbor to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, the Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovations launched A2Zero in November 2019. Aiming to jumpstart planning processes, A2Zero seeks to address energy, mobility, resource reduction and adaptation and resilience to encourage renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure for the city.
Mayor Christopher Taylor said the proposed millage will provide the necessary funds for Ann Arbor residents to enjoy the safety, comfort and long-term affordability that will come with carbon neutrality.
“The Community Climate Action Millage will cost the average homeowner about $2 a week, but the benefits that they will receive will be true value for money,” Taylor said. “City-wide programs to reduce energy cost, increase comfort and safety (and) improve lives now.”
Ann Arbor resident Adam Goodman expressed his support for the millage and urged the city to continue working towards the A2Zero goals. He said that implementing the city’s climate goals requires significant financial commitment from the Ann Arbor community.
“As some wise people can say, the truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision,” Goodman said. “It’s found in this budget. I do think this millage is needed, and I hope you all will support it. However, I also hope that this is not the end of the conversation on how we will reach our climate goals.”
Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, said that while he feels cautious asking residents to invest even more into the city, he thinks the millage is critical to the city’s climate goals and resident needs. He said the millage would allow the city to invest in expanded compost and recycling, improved transportation and infrastructure.
“It’s going to allow us to develop more reliable and sustainable clean energy options for our community,” Radina said. “To help lower-income residents and seniors save money by making their homes more energy and water efficient, improve our emergency preparedness efforts and help to mitigate neighborhood flooding.”
Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, said he felt the council was rushing the resolution and warned against the 20-year timeline for the millage. He called for a shorter timeline and said this would help hold the city accountable, especially given that not everyone in Ann Arbor can afford the millage.
“It adds the accountability factor,” Ramlawi said. “We must be accountable to the taxpayers, to our residents, to people that vote for this. How do we know as voters and taxpayers that this is actually going to go to what it should do and be successful?”
Councilmember Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, emphasized that A2Zero is an ambitious plan that requires substantial support and time from the community.
“The reality is that we should have been doing this work decades ago,” Briggs said. “So I continue to support recognizing that we’re going to need this funding for an extended period of time.”
Councilmember Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1, said the millage would help provide resources to people from lower incomes who pay disproportionately high amounts to heat their homes as well as spread basic city compost and recycling services more equitably.
“There’s so much we can do to recapture the value that’s in the things that we waste right now,” Disch said. “This is not just a virtue tax, if that’s the way people are thinking about it. It is a move that is going to save people money.”
The resolution to place the Community Climate Action Millage on the November 2022 ballot passed 10-1, with Councilmember Hayner, D-Ward 1, opposing.
Daily Staff Reporter Vanessa Kiefer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.