City Council discusses amendments to 2015-2016 budget

Amanda Allen/Daily
Councilmember Kirk Westphal debates with fellow city council members at the Ann Arbor city council meeting on Monday. Buy this photo

By Andrew Almani, Daily Staff Reporter
Published May 18, 2015

The Ann Arbor City Council met Monday evening at City Hall to discuss a multitude of proposed amendments to the city's 2015-2016 fiscal year budget, which takes effect July 1.

The proposed changes to funding related to the creation of outdoor ice rinks for public use, climate change initiatives and expansion of capabilities for processing organic waste in the city.

The council voted unanimously to approve a proposal to establish natural ice rinks in Allmendinger, Burns and Northside parks for cost free usage by city residents. Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3) proposed the amendment, which will submit $89,169 in general fund cash to create the ice rinks.

With acknowledgment of the importance of sustainability in the Ann Arbor community, the council approved putting $80,000 toward hiring a full-time sustainability associate to advise the city and $85,000 toward programs associated with the city's Climate Action Plan, guiding residents and businesses to decrease emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.

The council also approved an allocation of $100,000 from the solid waste budget to create a comprehensive plan to manage and process organic waste in the city.

The city spends money annually to send materials that aren’t composted to a private landfill. Upwards of 40 percent of materials going to landfills from Ann Arbor consists of organic waste that has potential to be processed. Currently, Ann Arbor residents compost roughly half of their solid waste. The amendment was introduced by Councilmembers Julie Grand (D–Ward 3), Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) and Kirk Westphal (D–Ward 2).

Councilmember Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1) provided an update on the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission’s Subcommittee on Civilian Police Oversight, which had been tasked with determining whether or not an oversight board for the city’s police force is necessary.

The subcommittee decided unanimously that an oversight board needs to be established, although the specific title or model of implementation still needs to be developed.

“They knew there was a real need, and parts of the population that were concerned, … I really appreciate their work, and Ann Arbor residents appreciate what they have done,” Kailasapathy said.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, six speakers expressed support for the Allen Creek Greenway master plan. This plan proposes the creation of a path for pedestrians and bicycles along the alignment of Allen Creek and the defunct Ann Arbor Railroad.

The Greenway would contribute to recreational green space for the downtown area and its surrounding neighborhoods while improving flood control watershed quality. Support for the concept dates back to the 1980s.

Another issue raised by Ann Arbor residents during public commentary regarded deer management. Speakers urged the council to allow the Humane Society to assess the Ann Arbor area and provide a recommendation before moving forward to reduce numbers in the deer population through culls.