City of Ann Arbor Ballot Proposals
On Nov. 6, 2018, voters in the City of Ann Arbor will be weighing in on three ballot proposals: 1) to designate the city-owned "Library Lot" as an urban park and civic center commons; 2) to change how a vacancy in elected office is filled; and 3) to levy a 6-year, 1.1-mill tax renewal for park maintenance and capital improvements.
CITY OF ANN ARBOR PROPOSAL A:
Designate the Library Lot as an Urban Park
This proposal would amend the city charter to ensure that the entire city-owned "Library Lot" property just north of the downtown library, between Fifth Avenue and Division Street, would become an urban park and civic center commons.
The majority of the Ann Arbor City Council opposes this proposal, wanting instead to develop the site and use a portion of proceeds from the development to fund affordable housing. The council has authorized the sale of that property's air rights to the developer Core Spaces, which hopes to construct a 17-story building there that would include retail space, a hotel, offices and apartments. The development, called The Collective on 5th, would also include a 12,000-square-foot plaza area. This ballot proposal puts that development in question, though the project continues to move forward.
The issue of whether or not to develop this property has a long and complicated history. The Ann Arbor Committee for the Community Commons – overlapping with members of the Library Green Conservancy – collected signatures to put the current proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot. Then a 6-5 majority of the Ann Arbor City Council voted to add "explanatory" text to the ballot, essentially arguing against the proposal. Supporters of the ballot proposal sued to remove the extra text, which was twice as long as the original proposal. After losing in local court, they prevailed at the Michigan Court of Appeals and the extra text will not appear on the ballot.
Separately, two city councilmembers – Anne Bannister and Sumi Kailasapathy – have sued the city, Mayor Christopher Taylor and City Clerk Jackie Beaudry, alleging that the city illegally executed a $10 million contract to sell the Library Lot development rights. That case is being litigated in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Supporters of the proposal have filed campaign finance documents under the name Ann Arbor Central Park Ballot Committee. Will Hathaway is serving as its treasurer. You can find the group’s campaign finance information here.
An opposition group – Voters for a Responsible Ann Arbor – has formed to lobby against this proposal. The group’s treasurer is Brad O’Furey and its spokesperson is Jen Eyer. You can find their campaign finance information here.
Here's exactly what you'll see on the ballot:
Proposal A: Charter Amendment for the City-Owned Public Land Bounded by Fifth Avenue, and William, Division, and Liberty Streets to be Designated, in Perpetuity, as an Urban Park and Civic Center Commons to be Known as the "Center of the City," by Amending the Ann Arbor City Charter Adding a New Section 1.4 to Chapter 1 of the Charter.
Shall the City-owned public land bounded by Fifth Ave, and William, Division and Liberty Streets be retained in public ownership, in perpetuity, and developed as an urban park and civic center commons, known as the “Center of the City” by adding a new section for the purpose as explained above?
In the News: Designate the Library Lot as an Urban Park
Ann Arbor central park proposal opposed by Washtenaw Housing Alliance – MLive, Oct. 17, 2018
Library board unanimously opposes Ann Arbor central park proposal – MLive, Oct. 16, 2018
Mayor urges voters to reject Ann Arbor central park proposal – MLive, Oct. 8, 2018
Debate over Ann Arbor central park idea heats up as new opposition emerges – MLive, Sept. 24, 2018
Housing slated for Library Lot not affordable for target residents – MLive, Sept. 21, 2018
Developer launches new campaign for 17-story Library Lot high-rise – MLive, Sept. 17, 2018
Ann Arbor council votes 6-4 to OK agreements with high-rise developer – MLive, Sept. 17, 2018
Judge hears arguments in lawsuit over Ann Arbor high-rise deal – MLive, Sept. 5, 2018
State reverses ruling allowing lengthy Ann Arbor central park ballot language – MLive, Aug. 31, 2018
Judge sides with city in dispute over Ann Arbor central park proposal – MLive, Aug. 22, 2018
Group behind downtown Ann Arbor central park proposal sues city – MLive, Aug. 3, 2018
Pop-up party to support 17-story high-rise on Ann Arbor Library Lot – MLive, July 27, 2018
Group urges attorney general to reject Ann Arbor ballot proposal wording – MLive, July 16, 2018
Disputed changes to Ann Arbor ballot proposal headed to state AG – MLive, July 3, 2018
2nd Ward Ann Arbor council candidates differ on Library Lot, taxes – MLive, June 27, 2018
2 Ann Arbor council members sue city, mayor over Library Lot deal – MLive, June 20, 2018
Ann Arbor approves ballot language for 'Center of the City' proposal – MLive, June 18, 2018
Ann Arbor inks deal to sell downtown lot to Chicago developer for $10M – MLive, June 4, 2018
Proposal for downtown Ann Arbor central park going on ballot – MLive, May 29, 2018
Future of Ann Arbor's Library Lot could go to voters in November – MLive, April 23, 2018
Nowhere to grow but up? Ann Arbor grapples with solutions to its high-rise problem – Concentrate, Nov. 1, 2017
Library Lot petition effort falls short of making it on November ballot – MLive, Aug. 16. 2017
Ann Arbor council votes 8-3 to sell city lot for 17-story high-rise – MLive, April 17, 2017
Ann Arbor City Council votes to sell Library Lot – Michigan Daily, April 17, 2017
To Sell or Not to Sell? It's decision time for the Library Lot – Ann Arbor Observer, April 2017
Ann Arbor residents challenge development of high-rise on Library Lot – Michigan Daily, March 5, 2017
Is Bigger Better? Planting a park on Library Lane – Ann Arbor Observer, July 2014
CITY OF ANN ARBOR PROPOSAL B:
Change How a Vacancy in Elected Office Is Filled
This proposal addresses the process for handling a vacancy on the Ann Arbor City Council. It was prompted by a change in the length of mayoral and councilmember terms from two to four years, a change that was approved by voters in November 2016.
Here's how the process is handled now: If the mayor or a councilmember resigns, is removed from office or dies, the City Council appoints a replacement to fill the remainder of that term. If this happens early in a four-year term, it's currently possible for that appointed representative to serve almost four years.
The proposed charter amendment would apply only if a vacancy occurs with more than half of a term remaining – that is, more than two years. In that case, the appointed representative would serve only until the next primary election, if the vacancy occurs more than 30 days prior to the deadline to file as a candidate. Council elections are now held only in even-numbered years.
If approved by voters, this proposal would amend the city charter's Section 12.14(a). Click here to view the current city charter. Read the staff memo and resolution approved by Ann Arbor City Council on July 16, 2018 that authorized this ballot proposal. The resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and passed unanimously.
Here's exactly what you'll see on the ballot:
Proposal B: Amendment to Alter the Procedure for Filling a Vacancy in Elective Offices
Currently, a vacancy in an elective office is filled by appointment of City Council, regardless of how long is left of the term. If this amendment is approved, a vacancy that occurs with more than half of the term remaining will be filled by appointment until the next regular City election, at which the rest of the term will be contested, so long as the filing deadline for the primary election is thirty days or more after the vacancy occurs. Shall this proposed amendment to the Ann Arbor City Charter be adopted?
In the News: Change How a Vacancy in Elected Office Is Filled
Ann Arbor voters to decide new ballot proposal in November – MLive, July 17, 2018
CITY OF ANN ARBOR PROPOSAL C:
Parks Maintenance & Capital Improvements Tax
Ann Arbor voters will be asked to approve a 6-year, 1.1-mill tax renewal to fund maintenance and capital improvements in city parks. [A separate parks-related tax renewal for Washtenaw County is also on the Nov. 6 ballot.]
The tax is estimated to raise about $6.042 million starting in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020). Those funds will be allocated as follows: 70% for park maintenance activities and 30% for capital improvement projects, with those percentages shifting up to 10% annually. Park maintenance activities include forestry and horticulture, natural area preservation, park operations, and recreation facilities. Capital improvement projects include active parks, historic preservation, neighborhood parks and urban plazas, pathways, trails, boardwalks, greenways and watersheds, and recreation facilities. Parks staff will also look for new "targets of opportunity" that could be funded with millage proceeds.
So how much is 1.1 mills? It depends on the value of your property. If you own a home with a $200,000 market value and a $100,000 taxable value, you’d pay $110 per year. (Check out our Voter Vocabulary glossary for a more detailed explanation of how to calculate a millage.)
Read the staff memo and resolution approved by Ann Arbor City Council on Aug. 9, 2018 that authorized this ballot proposal.
Click here for more information about how the parks maintenance and capital improvements tax dollars are spent. And check out the city's parks and recreation website for more info about facilities and events..
Here's exactly what you'll see on the ballot:
Proposal C: Ann Arbor City Charter Amendment Authorizing Tax for Park Maintenance and Capital Improvements
Shall the Charter be amended to authorize a tax up to 1.10 mills for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2019 through 2024 to replace the previously authorized tax for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2013 through 2018, which will raise in the first year of the levy an estimated revenue of $6,042,300? In accordance with State law, a portion of the millage may be subject to capture by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.
In the News: Parks Maintenance & Capital Improvements Tax
[We'll update this section when news articles are published.]
PROPOSALS ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT:
A) Designate the Library Lot as an Urban Park
B) Change the Process for Filling a Vacancy on City Council
C) Renew a Tax for City Parks & Rec
Renew a Tax for County Parks & Rec
1) Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
2) Create an Independent Redistricting Commission
3) Make Voting More Accessible
What if I don't live in Ann Arbor?
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