At the final Ann Arbor City Council meeting of the year, council members approved the allocation of $125,000 toward heightened police enforcement of traffic laws as well as over $1.4 million for affordable housing.

AAPD to use grant to enforce traffic laws

Following Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje’s recent veto of a proposal to amend the language of Ann Arbor’s crosswalk ordinance, the council turned their attention to traffic enforcement Monday night — a subject considered at the previous meeting. The council approved the allocation of $125,000 for traffic law enforcement, beginning in the new year.

John Seto, Ann Arbor Police chief, told city council members that with the additional funds, AAPD would be able to potentially increase overtime traffic enforcement by 1800 hours by Jan. 1.

During discussion of the proposal, council members said they would rely on Seto’s judgment and AAPD’s discretion for how the money will be spent. While the council has already approved the design of safer crosswalks in response to the host of citizen complaints related to traffic safety, the new measure would target the enforcement of current laws.

Council members unanimously agreed that measures needed to be taken to improve the enforcement of traffic laws, but some members characterized the transfer of $125,000 to AAPD with little direction as sloppy policy-making.

Hieftje was the only one to vote against the reallocation of the funds. The proposal passed with support from all the council members.

“I’m uncomfortable with putting the budget before we know what it is we are going to do,” Hieftje said to the council. “I just want to hear the plan before we throw the money on it.”

Funds to improve housing for the homeless

The Council also approved the allocation of $1.4 million to the Ann Arbor Housing Trust Fund — generated from its sale of the old YMCA building on Fifth Street and William Street.

The council is in the process of selling the property, which is now a public parking lot, for $5.25 million to Dennis Dalhmann, an Ann Arbor-based developer.

Members of the homeless community in Ann Arbor also addressed the council, offering their experiences of living in Ann Arbor without adequate housing in the winter. Many talked about the need for a shelter both as a refuge from the cold and as an aid while trying to find work.

After some conversation, the council unanimously voted to transfer the proceeds from the sale to the housing fund.

Council members were enthusiastic but cautious about supporting the proposal — with members Jane Lumm (I – Ward 2) and Sabra Briere (D – Ward 1) voicing their concerns.

Briere raised questions about how the money would ultimately be spent. The council decided that further consideration on the money’s appropriation would be postponed until future meetings.

“We do need to do something,” Briere said. “I just hope we aim at the right targets.”

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