Council members and residents got stood up by a state budget expert at last night’s City Council meeting.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje announced to council members and the public that Kirk Profit, a member of Governmental Consultant Services, cancelled his presentation on the state’s 2010 fiscal budget because the state legislature was still in flux over its decision about the budget plan and had no new developments to report.
Later on in the meeting, after a nearly 30-minute closed session, Councilmember Leigh Greden (D-Ward 3) announced that he wanted to add a new resolution to the agenda that opposed the 2010 state budget proposed by House Speaker Andy Dillon and state Senate Republicans.
The resolution sponsored by Councilmembers Margie Teall (D-Ward 4), Marcia Higgins (D-Ward 4) and Greden, expressed City Council’s dissent over the proposed state budget, which would “slash statutory revenue sharing to Michigan municipalities by 30 percent,” according to the resolution. That cut amounts to a loss of approximately $1,200,000 per year for the City of Ann Arbor, the resolution shows.
The resolution further states that the proposed budget would prove harmful for Michigan municipalities — including the City of Ann Arbor — by “forcing reductions in spending for vital public services, including police protection, fire protection, park operations and human services.”
Such reductions, the resolution states, are too drastic when the state government has cut statutory revenue sharing to Michigan municipalities by millions of dollars in recent years.
Councilmembers formally stated their disapproval of the proposed state budget in the resolution and urged Sen. Liz Brater (D – Ann Arbor), Rep. Pam Byrnes (D–Lyndon Twp.) and Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) — all of whom represent Ann Arbor in different roles — to also vote against the draft.
In addition, councilmembers wrote in a press release that Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, should shoot down any proposal that would cut statutory revenue sharing to Michigan municipalities.
City Council announced the resolution one week after Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and Dillon set newly established budget targets that call for a $1.2 billion cut in spending statewide without increasing taxes.
The compromise represents a breakthrough in a stalemate over the state’s budget. Reports by the conference committees in both state houses appointed by Bishop and Dillon will be presented as a revised budget and must be completed by the Oct. 1 deadline, otherwise there will be a partial government shutdown.
Casa Dominick’s new building
Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve Casa Dominick’s proposal for a new Planned Unit Development, which will allow the restaurant to expand and renovate as well as fold four other properties into a new establishment.
Dominick’s, which is currently a bar and restaurant, will use the extra space to add a small grocery operation, more seating, a bed and breakfast and housing and office space.
In order for the restaurant’s owner, Richard DiVarti, to move forward with his plan, the proposal will also have to comply with Ann Arbor’s zoning ordinances.
DiVarti inherited the property the restaurant currently sits on from his parents in 1960 and has since acquired the four surrounding properties.
Divarti’s plan was approved by the Ann Arbor Planning Commission in March, before it went before City Council.
Though there are concerns with the structural integrity of the building, John Barrie, the architect working on the project, said he will maintain the charm of the neighborhood.
Divarti added that patrons shouldn’t look for huge changes in the near future.
“There’s nothing immediate. It’s a 50-year plan, so it’s a gradual change,” he said.