Saline City Council Notes: Holiday/Christmas Parade, Revoked Tax Abatement, Public Transit Talk and More

 10/08/2013 - 03:34
Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Art Trapp and incoming chamber Board President Shelly Rankin talk to city council about this year's Holiday/Christmas parade. Council approved use of the right-of-way and in-kind service donations for the parade. But some residents called on the chamber to change the name of the event from a "Holiday Parade" to "Christmas Parade." Trapp said he'd take the residents' concerns back to the board.

Here's a quick look at action from Monday's Saline City Council meeting.

Council Approves Holiday/Christmas Parade

Saline City Council approved the annual Holiday/Christmas parade for Dec. 7. The annual Saline Area Chamber of Commerce parade takes place at 5:30 p.m.

Five area residents asked city council to work to convince the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce to return the word “Christmas” to the parade's name. Since the late 90s or early 2000s, the event has been called “holiday” parade. Mayor Brian Marl said he believed the event was a “Christmas” parade, but said it wasn't council's place to tell the chamber how to run its event. Art Trapp, Executive Director of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, said he would take the residents' concerns to the chamber's board of directors meeting Wednesday.

In the Chamber of Commerce's application to use the right-of-way, the group applied to stage the Holiday/Christmas parade. Council decided to approve the “Holiday/Christmas” parade instead of “Holiday” parade.

The vote was unanimous.

The theme of this year's parade is “Charlie Brown Christmas.”


Council Approves Holiday Tree Lighting

City council voted 7-0 to approve the annual Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. The event will take place at 7 p.m., Dec. 6. The event will feature music, cookies and refreshments, and tree ornaments made by students at Woodland Meadows Elementary School.


Council to Revoke DiggyPOD Tax Break

City council voted 7-0 to adopt a resolution to request the State Tax Commission revoke the tax break on DiggyPOD's Industrial Street building. DiggyPOD left its Saline location to move to Tecumseh. Council also voted to direct city staff to use a claw-back mechanism to recover the proper portion of the abated real and personal property taxes.


Auditors Approve City's Books

Plant Moran gave the city's books an “unqualified opinion,” which means the auditing company is vouching for the city's numbers. Plant Moran noted that the decline in property values is less pronounced and that the city should expect to see property tax revenues begin to increase again after years of decline. Plant Moran also advised city council that it should examine water and sewer rates to ensure rates continue to cover costs of operation.


Bourgoin Questions Use of Roads Monday in TIFA District

Councillor Lee Bourgoin again brought up his opposition to using general fund dollars to help pay for this year's Woodland Drive project. Bourgoin said that using general fund dollars for a TIFA district project represented a “sea change.” Bourgoin said the TIFA budget should pay for TIFA projects.

“If TIFA doesn't pay its own way, we'll have to raise taxes on residents,” Bourgoin warned. “This is a new chapter for the city if TIFA does not pay its own way.”


Early Approval for Saline Celtic Festival

City council granted approval for the 2014 Saline Celtic Festival. The festival will take place at Mill Pond Park July, 11-12, 2014. The festival sought approval much earlier than it has in previous years, hoping to get a headstart on fundraising. Last year's festival, buoyed by a busy craft beer tent and great weather, generated revenue for the festival and the nonprofit group which is charged with supporting the city event.

Mayor Brian Marl said he believes the festival is moving in the right direction.

“With another two or three good years, it can become its own independent autonomous entity,” Marl said.


Brecon Grille Pulls Tables from Leather Bucket Alley

City Manager Todd Campbell updated council on the latest on Leather Bucket Alley, the revamped alley behind Mangiamo Italian Grille and Brecon Grille. Both restaurants are leasing the property for $1 a year and using it as an outdoor cafe. As part of the lease agreement, both property owners agreed to rehabilitate the backs of their buildings.

Campbell said that Brecon Grille owner Paul Geragosian has pulled his tables and chairs from the alley and does not plan on renewing his lease next spring.

The alley, opened late this summer with smiling faces at ribbon cutting ceremony, has been the subject of some controversy, as the property owners to the south have said they weren't properly informed about the details of the plan. Recently resident Mary Hess complained to city council that Geragosian ordered her out of the alley way after she questioned whether the tables and chairs left enough room for pedestrians passing through. Hess spent more than a year hounding the city and Geragosian about whether Brecon Grille's sidewalk cafe was in compliance with the city's sidewalk ordinance.


Council Hears More About Transit Options

City council learned more about the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority's pitch to provide service to Saline.

At this point, city council isn't interested in joining the authority with Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Instead, the city is considering a purchase of services agreement with the AAATA.

The service package proposed Monday was smaller than the one proposed in July. Since then, a city circulator and an express route has been scrubbed. All that remains is an express route that would start in Saline to Ann Arbor express route (Michigan Avenue to State Street), and an enhanced dial-a-ride which is said to be an upgrade on the existing People's Express service.

The service would be implemented over five years. By the fifth year, the cost to the city would approximately $220,000 a year, a figure AAATA figures would be reduced by $90,000 with federal and state funding. Additionally, the city currently pays People's Express $48,000 annually, so the new cost to the city is reduced to $87,000 annually, AAATA officials said.

Councillor Jim Roth said he'd like to see the University of Michigan help subsidize the cost, since it's believed many users will be U of M employees trying to dodge the parking situation in Ann Arbor.

Councillor David Rhoads said public transportation should also bring more visitors to Saline businesses.

Mayor Marl said he'd like to study user rates to see if higher fares might bring down the costs to the city. Marl said he also wants to discuss options with Pittsfield Township officials, since, in this case, all roads to Ann Arbor go through Pittsfield Township.

The proposal received lukewarm support from council.

“I think there's a consensus to continue the dialogue. I'm intentionally reticent to endorse any plans until we can study the data a little more,” Marl said. “We don't need to make a decision until our contract with People's Express expires in the spring.”


Borer's Scarecrow Contest Comes Downtown

Council will let Borer Family Chiropractic and Saline Main Street use downtown streets for the 2nd Annual Borer Family Chiropractic Scarecrow Contest.

Click here for more information.


Lindenberg Friends Visit Sunday

The Mayor of Lindenberg Germany will be among special guests at Saline City Hall Monday. The Mayor is making a special trip to Saline to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the twinning of Saline and Lindenberg.

The celebration takes place at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13. The public is invited to attend.


Henry Ford Subject of Program

The Saline Area Historical Society presents an educational program on Henry Ford at 2 p.m., Sunday, on the Brecon Room at the Saline District Library.

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore founded The Saline Post on Aug. 15, 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @tranlongmoore. Follow The Saline Post @thesalinepost. Follow The Saline Post on Facebook by clicking here.