Due to the pandemic, the City of Ann Arbor is wrapping up the year with some serious budget challenges and community concerns. WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Mayor Christopher Taylor for their annual "year-in-review" interview about the year coming to a close and what lies ahead for 2021.
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor says the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Ann Arbor hard as it has so many places throughout the state, country and the world. He said Ann Arbor residents have suffered personal heartbreak and loss, and there have been economic losses as well. In fact, a recent budget report painted those losses as "grim," and Mayor Taylor says the city has lost several million dollars in parking revenue alone due to the pandemic, impacting the city budget.
Mayor Taylor says the city has "an excellent reserve fund" and "a bond rating that is quite good" that will sustain the city financially for now.
The Ann Arbor mayor said he's excited to work with the five newly-elected city council members joining council this year saying, "Each one is smarter and more thoughtful and caring than the next."
Mayor Taylor says he remains supportive of the city's carbon neutrality plan and anticipates new ideas to pay for clean up of the Gelman Plume. He says "taking fast action on climate change is a moral imperative" for Ann Arbor.
In summing up 2020 for the City of Ann Arbor, according to the mayor, COVID-19 was a low point, causing the city and its residents to "suffer physical and emotional loss as well as economic and civic loss," adding it's been "difficult and devastating." As far as a high point for the year that's ending, Mayor Taylor says he's excited about the recent passage of the affordable housing millage, which will allow the city to be more affordable and less racially segregated moving forward.
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