The Ann Arbor City Council convened Monday night to discuss the first part of the city budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

The meeting was the first round of discussions on the budget, and included comments from representatives of the courts, the fire department and the police department, as well as City Administrator Steve Powers.

Tom Crawford, the city’s chief financial officer, said the city’s general fund has not yet recovered from the 2008 economic recession.

“The general fund is still recovering from the downturn in a number of different ways and it’s still going to take us more time do that,” he said.

Crawford noted that projections for the operating budget, which are based on both existing operations and staff requests, show there will be an adjusted net deficit of $1,815,978 in 2016 and of $2,550,605 in 2017. The bulk of these deficits, he added, are caused by staff compensation.

Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto discussed a proposed budget expansion for the police department. According to the city’s budget impact analysis, the police department is requesting $290,667 in additional funds for 2016 and an additional $132,867 for fiscal year 2017.

The request includes money for replacements of police armor for 70 police officers, which will cost a total of $49,000. Tasers for 25 officers are also included in the budget projection.

Additionally, Seto noted that by June 30, 2017, 13 of the department’s 25 supervisors will be up for retirement and therefore promotions will need to be made. The staffing adjustments are estimated to cost $35,000.

Larry Collins, chief of the Ann Arbor Fire Department, said the department is asking for $200,666 in additional monies for 2016 and $103,202 in 2017.

The additional money would cover two four-wheel drive emergency staff vehicles for assistant fire chiefs. Until now, stipends allowed assistant fire chiefs to use their own vehicles for transportation in cases of emergency.

An important point for both Seto and Collins was accrediting their departments by becoming members of professional organizations.

Seto said the Ann Arbor Police Department was previously a member of the Commission for the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) but left in 2003. He now wants the department to regain its membership, which is estimated to cost a one-time fee of $14,000.

“We will be held to standards that are nationally accepted,” Seto said. “Much like I speak about many times being on the same page on training policies with local departments, I feel it’s just as important to have our standards on training and policies on the national level as well. Receiving that accreditation will give us that process and that system.”

He added that he would like to make one of the police officers or detectives a lieutenant to take on the process of achieving accreditation.

Expressing a similar sentiment, Collins said he wants the Ann Arbor Fire Department to become a member of the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

“It’s all about promoting excellence and encouraging quality services to the community,” Collins said. “It lets us a show you in a host of different ways what our service package is and how we are achieving that service package for the dollars that are invested.”

Collins noted he would like to hire a part-time intern for three years rather than relocating a fire department employee for the job of moving through the accreditation process. According to the budget, the intern would cost $72,000 for both fiscal years.

The next hearing on the budget process is set for March 9. The Council will formally consider the budget May 18.

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