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Projects

The city wants to borrow $24 million to do 14 stormwater projects. The state application deadline is July 1. According to annarbor.com, the city explained the need for the project as follows:
 
"In light of an increase in the number of storms like these in recent years, Ann arbor plans to ask the state for a $24 million low-interest loan to complete 14 projects related to storm-water management."
 
While it's clear we have major stormwater problems, especially in the Allen Creek, there are a number of problems with the way projects are selected and the way it's being sold to the public.
 
First, these projects deal with cleaning the water, not controlling flooding. It's misleading to tell the public that it will fix the flooding problems. 
 
Second, paying off $24 million in loans, even at a low interest rate, is not free.  How big of a rate increase is needed to pay for these projects?  The stormwater budgets for FY12 and FY13 show that almost all of the revenue will be spent on maintenance and administration, leaving insufficient amounts to pay off $24 million in loans without a substantial rate increase.  One of the reasons there is very little money to pay for stormwater capital improvements despite past rate increases is that the city has moved the cost of maintaining street trees from the general fund to the stormwater fund.  The FY12 and FY13 stormwater budgets have over $300,000 per year to remove trees and stumps but less than $100,000 per year to replant trees even though moving forestry costs to the stormwater fund was justified by the importance of trees in reducing runoff. 
 
Third, are these the best projects to do?  Do they give us the most bang for the buck?  Do they deal with stormwater problems that impact current residents?  Is there a big picture plan to solve our stormwater problem?  If so, what is it? 
 
Some specifics--Many of the projects involve underground cleaning tanks, which are more expensive than other solutions.  Some of these tanks were placed in West Park and have collapsed.  Would other approaches be cheaper and more reliable.  One of the 14 projects is spending over $1 million to fix the ponds handling runoff from the compost site.  Since the city has turned over our compost facility to We Care to run as a for-profit activity, should this project be paid for by We Care or our tax dollars?
 
If your neighborhood has stormwater issues, please attend the meeting and give your input.

Public Hearing on Stormwater Projects
June 14
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
New Center, 1100 N Main
 
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