Ann Arbor is a fun place to visit, assuming you want to brave the traffic or take a bus. Be careful, though — I think the place’s craziness is contagious.
Speaking of crazy, Ann Arbor has recently approved its new budget in an attempt to fix some issues with it that went wrong. Hilariously, stupidly wrong.
An AnnArbor.com article mentioned that “An attempt by [Councilwoman] Lumm and [Councilman] Kunselman to reduce the city’s public art budget by $307,299 was defeated with no other council members supporting the proposal. They wanted to eliminate about $185,000 in transfers to the art fund from the water, sewer and stormwater budgets, as well as $122,500 in expected transfers from the street millage.”
Anti-hippie nerd rage activated. I’m not going to dive into the legality of that, because it would require more space. I will question the sanity of it though. A few hundred thousand dollars might not sound like a lot when the budget is tossing around millions, but that’s not the point.
The point here is that money from one source is being diverted to something not related to its original intent.
I’m not against art. I’m a writer for crying out loud — meaningless didacticism is what will theoretically pay off my student loans. What ticks me off here is that the money is being used for something other than its intended purpose.
It’s one thing to have a bloated art budget, but to have a bloated art budget that diverts resources from city services is another story.
I’ve mentioned in the past how Ann Arbor having an art budget isn’t out of place and that it can be a good thing. But it’s not good when its funding is from other budgets. Such book juggling may be admirable in its audacity, but it is disgraceful in its practice.
The fact that the proposal was defeated doesn’t surprise me. Still, Ann Arbor’s City Council needs to get its priorities straight. The article said the city’s civil services won’t be cut or reduced by the new budget — in fact they’re being expanded. Yet, when it comes to something as self-proclaimed important to the city as art, they decide to divert funds from other sources.
Either reduce the art budget or find a way to fund it directly. Don’t drain other budgets, especially from city services, to do it. If it’s not illegal, it’s certainly ethically questionable. I know the concept of fiscal responsibility is a foreign concept to Ann Arbor, but maybe they should learn it while they still have the time and the budget to do it with a cool head.