The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti (A2Y) Regional Chamber seeks to be the premiere public policy organization to advocate for business in Washtenaw County and a significant voice in southeast Michigan. To this end the Chamber has taken positions on some of the critical ballot issues at the local and statewide levels. The A2Y Chamber will also publicize responses to a questionnaire it sent to candidates for federal, state and local office. The Chamber’s positions on the local ballot questions are listed below. Positions on statewide ballot issues and the responses to our candidate questionnaire will be released on Monday, October 29, 2012.
Ann Arbor Proposal B- Ann Arbor City Charter Amendment Tax for Art in Public Places
The A2Y Chamber takes no position on Ann Arbor Proposal B. While there are arguments both in favor of and against the current process to publicly fund art, the question of process continues to be a difficult one. With that in mind, the A2Y Chamber appreciates the proponents of Proposal B for having the foresight to bring this question before the voters for a direct vote. This proposal’s fate at the ballot box will give policy makers a clearer picture of the citizens’ desire to specifically fund public art. The Chamber appreciates this major opportunity for direct citizen input.
Ann Arbor District Library Proposal- Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Building Proposal
The A2Y Chamber endorses the Ann Arbor District Library’s millage proposal appearing on the November 2012 ballot. While we recognize there may be concerns regarding the timing and magnitude of the proposal, we believe that the Library has made a reasonable and valid case for its proposal. For instance, while building on the current site creates a number of issues, due to the unique legal restrictions on that property vis-à-vis the school district, relocating the main library is not feasible. Further, the building is antiquated and not conducive to providing the types of services and resources demanded of a library in the 21st Century and particularly in our community which has proven a need and desire for a main branch providing modern services. Refitting the current building would entail considerable costs and not provide long-term solutions. In addition, and at least as significantly as the other reasons, the Library Board has proven itself to be a responsible steward of the public’s money. They have built first class branches without incurring debt, and for many years have voluntarily chosen to levy less than the full amount of taxes which it could otherwise levy. And finally, having a modern downtown main library reinforces our community’s image and commitment to this resource, and the plans for the new facility will be a destination for many and an asset to the overall business and community climate.
Willow Run Community Schools (WRCS) and Ypsilanti Public Schools (YPS)
(Note: There are two identical ballot proposals coming before voters in the WRCS and YPS jurisdictions.)
Proposal-School District Consolidation Proposal
Earlier this year, the A2Y Chamber came out in support of the consolidation of WRCS and YPS. We reiterate our support and endorse this proposal citing our previous statement’s case for the merger.
Operating Millage Proposal
The A2Y Chamber supports this companion proposal to the School District Consolidation Proposal. The chamber believes the failure of this proposal would be severely detrimental to the newly created entity (resulting from the WRCS-YPS merger). The operating millage is not a tax increase, but simply keeps in place the existing operating millage that is already levied in each district. If this proposal fails, the consolidation (if passed by voters) would still move forward and this proposal would need to be placed on the February 2013 ballot since the State of Michigan expects each district to levy the 18 mills on non-homestead parcels. Failure to approve the millage will result in an $8.9 million (estimated) shortfall in revenue which will further exacerbate the financial challenges of the new district and make it highly unlikely that the new school district could survive given that it will already be facing a roughly $11.6 million deficit. Failure to approve this millage proposal has the potential for the imposition of an emergency manager being appointed to run the district. For these reasons, the Chamber believes that the passage of this operating millage is essential for the success of the newly created entity and for the educational prospects of the children it will serve.