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Ann Arbor posts budget surplus


At a time when many Michigan cities are struggling to stay afloat, Ann Arbor ended its budget year with a surplus.

Mayor John Hieftje says Ann Arbor was not immune to the downturn in the economy, including the loss of property values and state revenue sharing.

But the city posted a nearly $1 million surplus in its general fund budget last year -- more than expected.

Hieftje says Ann Arbor has about 300 fewer employees today than it did a decade ago. The city didn't fill many vacant positions and cut upper and mid-level management jobs. 

Police gave concessions in health and pension benefits in their last contract. The mayor hopes firefighters will do the same.

And Hieftje, who's held the post since 2000, says Ann Arbor has worked hard to stay solid.

"You have to have quality of life, if you want to attract new businesses, and we have been able to do that," Hieftje says. "And that's why we have lower unemployment. We're fortunate to have the University of Michigan here -- but then, they don't pay taxes."

The mayor says because federal funds were secured for a major bridge project near Michigan Stadium, money is available this year to begin resurfacing city streets badly in need of repair.