City Council hosted a virtual meeting Monday night to discuss resolutions regarding improvements on road millage, issues on police reform and the reopening of Ann Arbor amid COVID-19. 

Sherly Siddall, managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, presented plans for 2021-2024 to the council on restoring and renewing efforts of roads and non-motorized millage. Siddall emphasized the approximate revenue goal of $8.9 million for millage that will be distributed through the Washtenaw County Road Commission, and Washtenaw Parks and Recreation and cities and villages. 

The new plans also include an estimated cost of $6.8 million for ten pathway projects and Connecting Communities Grants. Siddall emphasized that there needs to be more funding for road and non-motorized millage.

“As we all know, with the current pandemic that we have and the funding to support those efforts, we all have concerns on what that general fund will look like within the next couple of years,” Siddall said. “As we ask ourselves that question, the need for local dollars still exists.”

The council transitioned into discussing recent events on police reform. Lisa Jackson, chair of Ann Arbor’s Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, shared her views on the current state of the police after George Floyd’s death

“One of the things that’s clear to us is that it’s kind of a shame that it took George Floyd to mobilize this level of social interest in police reform,” Jackson said.

The DC-16 resolution requests that the ICPOC lead an in-depth, multi-stakeholder and data-driven review of public safety services as well as provide the City Council with reports and recommendations. Jackson argued there needs to be a better resolution since many of the councilmembers were given short notice with this resolution later in the week. 

“To be crystal clear, our entire commission was not privy to this resolution before it was published to the city’s website on Friday,” Jackson said. “We function as a collective.”

Jackson ended her speech by mentioning what being Black means in American society.

“To live in this country as a person of color is to exist in a constant state of anxiety because for everybody who looks like me, there was never and has never been a guarantee that harm is hiding right around the corner, whether it’s flashing lights or (a) burning cross,” Jackson said. “We are all here today because we want to create a better future for everyone in our community, but it’s also my responsibility both as the chair of this commission and as a Black woman who has seen what this country can do to people who look like me, to remind you that we all carry the past with us, and the weight of what’s happened requires that you now share and carry some of that painful, painful burden if you want to move forward.”

Julie Grand, D-Ward 3, supported Jackson and praised her speech, addressing how the council needs to further discuss the important issue regarding police reform and the Black community. 

“Hearing from Dr. Jackson tonight … confirms that (the ICPOC) should be front and center in rethinking public safety and that I want to make sure to commit this evening to that knowing that whatever funding they need to make that happen, I want to get behind,” Grand said.

Mayor Christopher Taylor later apologized for the delay in the notice of the resolution to his council members. 

The DC-3 Resolution, moved by councilmembers Elizabeth Nelson, D-Ward 4, Jane Lumm, I-Ward 2, and Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, also addresses police reform. The resolution will provide support for a more substantive civilian review of policing practices and incidents in coordination with ICPOC.

Nelson addressed the importance of this resolution.

“I’m hopeful that this current climate is an opportunity for us to make some headway and some influence,” Nelson said. “We’ve created a law, we’ve created an ornament that we want civilian oversight over the police department.”

The resolution was approved by the council.  

City Council also introduced resolutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amber Miller, capital projects manager at the Downtown Development Authority of Ann Arbor, Raymond Hess, transportation manager of the city of Ann Arbor, and Oliver Kiley, principal landscape architect at  the SmithGroup, presented the plan on the Healthy Streets Initiative, which plans to make social distancing safe and easy for pedestrians. The plan for during the pre-vaccine and re-opening stages includes separating bike lanes, managing vehicle speed, expanding the bike network, adjusting intersections and expanding sidewalks.  

Miller addressed the process if the resolution were to pass.

“If these pilot projects are approved today, we will do our best to make everyone aware of the temporary changes and will also use the pilots as a chance to talk with the community,” Miller said.

The council also discussed resolution DC-5, which aims to support Washtenaw County and the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County in response to COVID-19 and appropriate $250,000 for current and future COVID-19 shelter response.

The resolution satisfied the eight-vote requirement and was successfully passed by the council.

Daily Staff Reporter Ann Yu can be reached at anncyu@umich.edu

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