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A2 City News, June 2017​ (PDF), Volume 11, Number 6 (originally distributed June 1, 2017, via email to "resident newsletter: A2 City News" subscribers)​

In this issue:  New utility payment system  |  Fiscal year 2018 budget approved  |  Vehicle auction  |  City water and sewer services feedback  |  Historic District Commission Awards  |  Mayor’s Green Fair  |  Community town hall listening session  |  TAMC award |  Idling ordinance  | Changing Driver Behavior study  |  Citywide safety  |  Closed-captioning ordinance  |  Fireworks 4-1-1  |  Police and Fire departments open house  |  Summer day camps  |  Good news

New utility payment system

On June 14, the City of Ann Arbor will activate a new online utility payment system. The new system is fast, easy and secure! Customers will now have the option of making one-time payments with no registration required. Or customers may continue to register to take advantage of several features, including saving their payment method, signing up for paperless billing, setting up a recurring auto-payment plan and linking multiple accounts.  

Please note that if you are currently set up for paperless billing or have an active recurring payment plan, you will need to re-register on the new site and sign up for those features again if desired. Any payment scheduled up to June 13, whether as a future one-time payment or already scheduled as part of your recurring payment plan, will continue to draft on the date scheduled. However, after June 13, the current site will no longer be available, and you will be directed to the new site to make payments.  

Please be aware that registration on the new site will require your customer number (last six digits of your account number) and the last name on the account.

The city understands that changing the way bills are paid can be disruptive and apologizes for any inconvenience it causes. We are confident that you will find the new site much more customer friendly. If you have any questions or concerns once the site goes live, please don't hesitate to contact the city via email or call 734.794.6333.

City Council approves FY2018 budget 

On May 15, City Council approved the $380 million expenditure budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1, 2017. This is the first of a two-year budget plan for the latest anticipated revenue and includes expenditure strategies to establish an operating plan that is balanced. "Balanced" is defined as a plan that supports a sustainable delivery of services within projected revenues. 

Priorities

City Council adopted the Sustainability Framework in 2014, which includes theme areas such as Climate and Energy, Community, Land Use and Access and Resource Management. In December 2016, using the Sustainability Framework as an overarching policy guide, City Council established priorities to support this framework. 

The approved 2018 budget includes funding for pedestrian safety, an evaluation of police community engagement practices, affordable housing and climate action.

General fund recurring expenses are projected to increase by about $2.6 million or 2.6 percent, while recurring revenues are expected to increase by approximately $3 million or 3 percent in the next fiscal year. With $2.6 million in non-recurring expenses and $1.9 million in non-recurring revenue next fiscal year, the approved

FY18 budget includes using $924,000 in general fund cash reserves to balance the budget. 

Other highlights of the budget include:

  • $2.9 million for programs to further pedestrian safety. 
  • $1.2 million toward design work for future Nixon Road corridor improvements. 
  • $260,000 for lethal, nonlethal and education activities related to deer management. 
  • $150,000 additional funding for new streetlights. The budget also included $300,000 for streetlight replacement.   
  • $104,857 increase to the parks budget per the Council's parks fairness policy. 

The budget also includes funding to increase full-time city employees by 11 to improve service levels, including a probation officer, IT telecommunications manager, HR temporary/seasonal hiring specialist, assistant city administrator/chief of staff, boards and commission manager, transportation engineer and housing commission staff.    

Watch the May 15 City Council meeting online via CTN Video on Demand, or visit the Citizen Guide to Budget and Finance resource website to view budget-related documents and information about the budget process.

Vehicle auction

The City of Ann Arbor sells used city vehicles and equipment through an annual vehicle auction with auction house Braun & Helmer. The sale is held each year on the first Wednesday of June. The 2017 auction will take place Wednesday, June 7 at 4 p.m. Go online for details

Share your feedback on city water and sewer services

Safe, high quality and reliable water infrastructure is essential to quality of life; and this largely unseen network of treatment facilities, pipes and valves requires constant attention and investment. 

In the upcoming years, much of the City of Ann Arbor water infrastructure will need to be upgraded or replaced; and so the city is conducting a cost of service study for its drinking water and wastewater rates. This study will bring members of the public and the city together in order to find balance between the infrastructure needs of the city and the values of the community, in terms of the rates and charges paid by users.

To help inform the city of your values when it comes to water and sewer services, please participate in a brief survey. The survey closes June 30, 2017.

To stay informed about the cost of service study, subscribe to email updates or check out the project website at a2gov.org/cos.

Historic District Commission Awards 

The 2017 Ann Arbor Historic District Commission 33rd Annual Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, June 5, at 7 p.m. at Larcom City Hall. The mayor will present each recipient with their award and thank them for their contributions to the beautification of Ann Arbor. There are 19 awards this year: one Bicentennial, two Centennial Awards, two Special Merit, three Preservation Awards, 10 Rehabilitation Awards and one Memoriam Award. Award-winning properties range in age from pre-Civil War to midcentury modern and include residential, institutional and commercial buildings. Go online to read about the 2017 honorees. (Pictured, 1410 Hill St.)

17th Annual Mayor's Green Fair

Downtown Ann Arbor will again be bustling in celebration of the environment and sustainability at the 17th annual Mayor's Green Fair Friday, June 9, 6–9 p.m. Stretching along Main Street between Huron and William streets, this free event celebrates the community's environmental leadership. The 2017 event will feature:

The Environmental Leaders Area, showcasing environmental nonprofit organizations, government agencies and participating businesses that are Environmental Excellence Partnership Program* with Washtenaw County. Many of the exhibit areas will provide information and host activities for all ages, such as craft projects with recycled goods from The Scrap Box, live birds of prey demonstrations with Leslie Science & Nature Center and roving sculptures. 

The Clean Energy Expo, providing a forum for innovative energy-saving designs and actions, including displays of electric and hybrid vehicles, demonstrations of green building materials, solar energy installations, ArborBike, renewable energy installations and more! 

The Green Commute Area, highlighting a variety of ordinary and innovative sustainable transportation choices — ranging from bus and rail transit information, Zipcar, electric bikes and more.

Entertainment, including women's roller derby, live music by Corndaddy and a pedal-powered DJ. Local vendors will sell organic food.

Green Fair, a zero-waste event, is coordinated by the office of Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, in cooperation with Washtenaw County Environmental Excellence Partners, the Clean Energy Coalition, getDowntown and Recycle Ann Arbor. Go online for details.

Community town hall listening session scheduled for June 13

The City of Ann Arbor is seeking community perspectives, concerns and suggestions regarding the Ann Arbor Police Department and its interaction with the Ann Arbor community. Led by consultant/assessment service provider to the city, Hillard Heintze, a community town hall listening session will take place Tuesday, June 13, 6–8:30 p.m.at Bryant Community Center, 3 West Eden Court in Ann Arbor. Participation in this open forum will help guide the city's efforts to advance the operations, staff, policies, procedures, accountability systems and training of the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Representatives from Hillard Heintze will introduce the project goals and hear from community members, however, this event will not be interactive with the Ann Arbor Police Department. Feedback, concerns and suggestions regarding the Ann Arbor Police Department and the department's interaction with the Ann Arbor Community are also welcome via email

These feedback opportunities welcome city residents, business owners, etc., to take an active role in their community and in the future of public safety in Ann Arbor.

City recognized by Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council 

The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) has honored the City of Ann Arbor with the 2017 TAMC Organization Award. The award was presented to City Engineer Nick Hutchinson at the annual TAMC conference May 25 in Mount Pleasant.

The City of Ann Arbor is being recognized as an early adopter of roadway asset management, implementing a 10-step plan-development process that expands asset management beyond just the basics of inventory, condition evaluation and reporting of financial forecasts. The city's process includes establishing level of service targets, formalized operations and maintenance strategies and an optimized capital improvement strategy. The city then further refines the strategy by performing a "benefit score" review, ranking all candidate projects according to criteria such as sustainability, safety compliance and emergency preparedness, master plan objectives and partnerships and coordination with other projects. The end result of this work is an asset management plan that includes a five-year capital improvement plan and a locally optimized treatment and funding strategy for the city's millage, state/federal aid and Act 51 revenues.

To further encourage Public Act 51 agencies, the TAMC established the Organization Award in 2009 to acknowledge agencies that have incorporated the principles of asset management and adopted an asset management plan to help guide their investment decisions. In addition, the TAMC Awards Program provides agencies around the state with excellent case examples to establish their own programs and best practices. All Public Act 51 road agencies are eligible to be nominated for this award. The city's nomination for the award was brought forth by Roger Belknap, coordinator of the TAMC, and supported by of the TAMC members and support staff at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Transportation asset management is a process of managing public assets, such as roads and bridges, based on the long-range condition of the entire transportation system. TAMC, created in 2002 by the Michigan Legislature, promotes the concept that the transportation system is unified, rather than separated by jurisdictional ownership. Its mission is to recommend an asset management strategy to the State Transportation Commission and the Michigan Legislature for all of Michigan's roads and bridges.

Idling ordinance

On July 1, 2017, a new idling ordinance (PDF) will go into effect in Ann Arbor. 

  • Commercial vehicles: Five-minute idling limit citywide, and no idling while vehicles are unoccupied.

  • Non-commercial vehicles: Five-minute idling limit in signed "no idling" zones, and no idling while vehicles are unoccupied. 

Cutting down on idling is important. Vehicle idling constitutes 1.6 percent of all greenhouse gases in the United States; and for every 10 minutes your engine is off, you'll prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released. In addition, fewer idling cars means fewer pollutants in the air that have been linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and other ailments.

Changing Driver Behavior Study 

In June, the City of Ann Arbor, under the guidance of Dr. Ron Van Houten and his team from Western Michigan University, will begin a Changing Driver Behavior study. The study will measure the impact of enhanced enforcement at crosswalks and communications feedback on stopping/yielding rates on major commuting routes within Ann Arbor. The study will replicate work Van Houten and his team performed in Gainesville, Florida.  

A total of 12 major commute routes will be adopted into the study, with six receiving enhanced enforcement and stopping/yielding rate feedback, the other six acting as controls where data will be collected to find if compliance rates outside the targeted routes improve. The study will use road signage, local and social media to provide feedback to drivers.

The city is currently collecting data, and officers are undergoing additional training. In June, warnings will begin to be issued to drivers who fail to stop and yield to pedestrians. In subsequent months, tickets will be issued.

Citywide safety 

The City of Ann Arbor recently received a Heart Safe Award from Huron Valley Ambulance. The award was presented to city Safety Manager Steve Schantz at the HVA awards ceremony on May 23, during EMS Week, at Washtenaw Community College. 

The city was honored for its emphasis on improving and maintaining a heart safe environment for city employees and the public alike. Just a few examples of these efforts include the city's installation/maintenance of AEDs in all city buildings and, in some cases, in city vehicles; the city's two in-house, certified CPR/AED trainers; requiring CPR/AED certification for all public works and parks and recreation employees; and the training made available to any other city employee who wants to become CPR/AED certified. All of the time and dedication to create a heart safe environment has resulted in hundreds of city employees being CPR/AED certified and provides city employees the skills and confidence to respond in the event an emergency.

The city's approach to addressing safety extends beyond city employees and facilities to include all who live, work, learn in and visit Ann Arbor. The city's overarching plan, for instance, also includes a focus on the "5 Es" of transportation: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation, with the A2 Be Safe campaign a primary encouragement and awareness strategy. Specific "5 E" initiatives include reduced-speed school zones at AAPS priority locations and ongoing enforcement in these areas; additional crosswalk enforcement; sidewalk repairs; and an active plan to install rectangular rapid flashing breach systems on several routes to schools. Go online to learn about other city safety initiatives.

The A2 Be Safe campaign has gained momentum with the help of community partners. The city will be working with Ann Arbor Public Schools, Washtenaw County, the Downtown Development Authority and others on safety initiatives and to share messages of safety with all audiences.

Anyone interested in helping A2 Be Safe is invited to join the effort. For more information about the campaign and the available materials, visit the partner resources page of the city website. 

Closed captioning on TVs in public places

A new city ordinance takes effect July 1 and requires the activation of closed-captioning on all televisions in places of public accommodation, including bars, hotel lobbies, restaurants, fitness centers, etc. 

City Council voted unanimously in February to approve the ordinance, as recommended by the city's Commission on Disability Issues. The intent of the ordinance is to be more accommodating to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

The ordinance does not require a TV in public place to be on; however, if a TV is on, then it must have the closed captioning activated.  

Community Television Network will also be expanding its closed-captioning services later in July to include all City Council regular and work sessions. Currently, only the Commission on Disability Issues meetings are closed-captioned. In addition, CTN intends to expand its closed-captioning services in fiscal year 2019 to include City Planning Commission meetings.

Fireworks 4-1-1

Warm summer nights and fireworks seem to go hand in hand. But did you know there are laws dictating when, where and what kind of fireworks are legal to use? While the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act broadens the selection of fireworks available for home/amateur use statewide, it is important to know there are still usage parameters per City of Ann Arbor ordinance (Section 9:266 of Chapter 115 Weapons and Explosives of Title IX). 

Fireworks usage is permitted only during certain timeframes and only around national holidays. The timeframe guidelines for the Independence Day holiday are:

  • Use is prohibited prior to July 3 and after July 5. 
  • Use is only permitted from 8 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on July 3, 4 and 5 with the following restrictions:
  • If you plan to use fireworks, please remember:
  • Use is always prohibited on public property, including parks, school property, church property and the property of another person unless the person using the fireworks has the expressed permission of the property owner.  
  • Use is always prohibited for persons under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
  • Prohibitions apply to "consumer fireworks," which are "fireworks devices that are designed to produce visible effects by combustion," such as roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and missile-type rockets. 
  • Prohibitions do not apply to ground and handheld sparkling devices.
  • Keep a ready source of water available. A connected hose is best, but a fire extinguisher or bucket of water will work, too.
  • Wet down an ignition area at least 30 feet in diameter for ground fireworks. That way if sparks do hit the ground, the chance of a spark igniting a fire will be minimal.
  • Light fireworks on a paved surface such as concrete or asphalt. If a hard surface is not available, select a dirt area without grass or vegetation. Keep fireworks away from any wooded or grassy areas.
  • Keep an eye out for smoldering fires in the grass or shrubs for 30 minutes after the display is completed.  If in doubt, call 9-1-1.

Please be mindful of sensitivities of other residents, pets and neighbors as well. Veterans and military-support organizations emphasize that fireworks can be particularly troublesome for military and veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. If you choose to use fireworks, please adhere to the ordinance, but please also use common courtesies, such as:

Informing neighbors in advance of your fireworks plans.

Limiting the frequency of your use during those acceptable usage hours.

Cleaning up all debris resulting from your fireworks use (see disposal tip below).

Please note the following safety guidelines, as well, from Ann Arbor police and fire departments:

  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
  • After a fireworks display, never pick up fireworks right away that may be left over, as they may still be active. Fully soak used/dud fireworks in water, and dispose of in the trash, not in recycling.
  • The risk of fireworks injury is more than twice as high for children ages 10–14 as for the general population. Children should never participate in setting off fireworks, and they should remain a safe distance way from where fireworks are being set off.
  • Sparklers may seem harmless, but the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. 

Additional safety guidelines (PDF) are available on the Ann Arbor Fire Department web page, or visit the National Fire Protection Agency website. For more information about the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which took effect statewide in 2012, see the frequently asked questions (PDF) on the State of Michigan website.

Safety services family open house is June 24

Explore fire and police vehicles, meet the Police K–9 unit, watch vehicle extrication and smoke house demonstrations, learn about the Community Emergency Response Team and more at the fourth annual Ann Arbor Police and Fire Departments Family Open House Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. The event is free and takes place along Fifth Avenue, between Huron and Ann streets. Free hot dogs and popcorn will be provided. 

This annual event is just one way the Ann Arbor Police and Fire departments stay involved. The AAPD's community engagement unit maintains a year-round focus on improving police and community relations. A range of services and activities through this unit help inform and educate about community policing, crime prevention and outreach programs. Community outreach is an important part of the AAFD as well. This includes not only fire station tours and ride-alongs, but Safety Town, Fire Prevention Week activities, parades, Firehouse Fridays, ice cream socials and neighborhood block parties — which also promote fire education and prevention.

School's almost out (now what?) 

With the school year coming to a close this month, families across the community are searching for fun, safe and meaningful ways for kids to spend their days. How about summer day camp with Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation? City of Ann Arbor day camps offer a positive environment where campers of all ages and interests can gain confidence and learn new skills while enjoying fun-filled days outside exploring the city's beautiful parks. 

These day camps still have limited spots available, and take place at the following park sites:

Buhr Park Pool, for children ages 5–12.  

Fuller Park Pool, for children ages 5–12.  

Huron Hills Golf Course, for children ages 8–15.  

Leslie Science & Nature Center, for completed grades kindergarten–fifth. 

Register online for day camp (LSNC has a separate registration site), or pick up a brochure at any parks facility to register via mail, walk-in or fax.

Good news

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Special ​​​Accomodati​​​​ons

If you know a city resident who requires this newsletter in an alternative format, please email the city communications office or call 734.794.6110, extension 41105.

All persons are encouraged to participate in public meetings. Accommodations, including sign language interpreters, may be arranged by contacting the City Clerk's office at 734.794.6140; via email to: cityclerk@a2gov.org; or by written request addressed and mailed or delivered to: City Clerk's Office  |  301 E. Huron St.  |  Ann Arbor, MI 48104 

Requests made with less than two business days notice may not be able to be accommodated.

City ​​​Missi​​on ​​

The city's ​mi​​ssion is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.​​ 

​Ann Arbor has 119,000 residents, spans 28.82 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, follow us on Twitter or become a city fan on Facebook

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​Go to the city’s website for contact information for council members or to determine your ward; or contact the City Clerk’s office, second floor of Larcom City Hall, at 734.794.6140.

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