When I went door to door in 2015, I asked people what services needed improvement. The most popular answers were:
- Road repairs: Faster, higher-quality road construction.
- Snow plowing: Faster plowing and better clearing of bike lanes. I heard the most complaints in neighborhoods far from downtown.
- Sidewalk snow removal: More consistent sidewalk snow removal.
- Traffic calming: Increased traffic calming in residential areas.
With more funding, the city can offer these services. The city should raise funds, not by raising taxes, but by growing its tax base and changing its spending priorities.
Short Term: 2017-2021
1. Road repairs: Increase road construction funding by 50% for five years: This will save money in the long run, because reconstructing roads once they have fallen apart is more expensive than doing preventative maintenance. Cost: $5 million a year, $25 million total.
2. Sidewalk snow removal. Perform one test year of city-wide sidewalk plowing. Cost: $0.8-2.7 million total.
3. Traffic calming: Increase funding for pedestrian infrastructure improvements by $0.5 million a year for five years. Cost: $0.5 million a year, $2.5 million total.
Total: $28.3-30.2 million.
1. Legalize private parking facilities, and sell six surface parking lots. This is necessary to end the city’s parking monopoly, which would have long term financial benefits and decrease traffic congestion. Revenue: $33.0 million (estimate).
Note: If there is strong public support for turning one of the surface lots into a park, I would support a plan to do so.
2. Defund the proposed retail incubator at the 4th and William parking structure. Revenue: $1.9 million.
3. Defund the translucent awning for the 4th and William parking structure. Revenue: $0.9 million.
Total: $35.8 million.
1. Road repair: Increase annual funding for road repairs and preventative maintenance.
2. Snow plowing: Increase annual funding for snow plowing.
3. Sidewalk snow removal: Perpetually fund city-wide sidewalk plowing.
4. Traffic Calming: Increase annual funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.
1. Legalize private parking facilities and stop building new parking structures. This would save millions every year, because new structures are not self-supporting.
2. End subsidies for private development. For example, the city should not give hundreds of thousands of dollars to private businesses, or hand out selective tax breaks.
3. Cut funding for expensive decorations and non-essential services. Taxpayer money should not go towards million dollar sculptures, translucent awnings, or downtown ambassadors.
4. Grow the city’s tax base by reforming density and use-restrictions in commercial corridors and other areas where nearby residents consent.
5. Consider replacing the street repair millage with a road user-fee that would directly charge all road users, including the University of Michigan and commuters who do not live in Ann Arbor.