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Ann Arbor can lead the way, vote yes for climate action

In November 2022, Ann Arbor residents will vote on a proposal to fund the City’s A2 Zero Action Plan, which outlines a just and equitable transition to carbon neutrality by 2030. The funds would come from a 20-year 1.0 mill increase in City property taxes.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our community to commit to effective, long-term actions to address climate change and work toward climate justice.”

Mike Shriberg

What would it mean for Ann Arbor to make a “just and equitable transition to carbon neutrality?”

It means that, by 2030, Ann Arbor would generate all of its electricity with solar and wind power, either local or purchased off the regional grid.  We would use electricity, not gas, to efficiently heat most buildings, using geothermal or air source heat pumps.  We would reduce our current vehicle traffic in half, and much of that would be electric-powered.  We would greatly reduce the amount of waste generated in the community, and would take major steps to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of the climate crisis.  The community would eliminate its net carbon emissions, and the benefits of this clean energy transition would reach all members of the community, not just the affluent.

What will the millage funding pay for?

The millage will support programs and services to carry out the A2Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan, in accordance with a Use Resolution adopted by City Council.  The priority areas are below, with their first-year budget allocation: 

  • Move the city toward a zero waste, circular economy (Year 1: $1M);
  • Advance the use of renewable energy, such as community solar, district geothermal, and new and expanded product discount pricing ($2M);
  • Provide services to help low-income residents, including seniors, save money and improve comfort, including a net zero energy program for all affordable housing sites ($0.75M);
  • Support energy efficiency improvements for residents and businesses that make their buildings more comfortable, save them money, and reduce carbon emissions ($0.5M);
  • Advance neighborhood and community preparedness for climate change ($0.5M);
  • Expand walking paths and bike lanes throughout the City ($1M);
  • Expand EV charging access, especially for renters and multi-family developments, and support “beneficial electrification” of clean electric appliances and heating/cooling ($1M).

The millage may also be used as a local cost share to state, federal, and private grants when necessary to unlock those additional financial resources.

How much does the City currently invest in community climate action?

Currently the City invests around $2 million per year in climate action, approximately half of which comes from a Washtenaw County rebate and half from the City’s general fund. The county rebate expires in 2026.  These investments have already helped the City launch programs such as the Solarize initiative, Aging in Place Efficiently, 10,000 Trees Initiative, and more. These programs have lowered our greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions by 2% per year, but that is nowhere near fast enough.

How much would the proposal increase taxes?

If approved, the proposal would increase the property tax by 1mill in the city of Ann Arbor. For example, the owner of a $400,000 home would pay an additional $4.00/week. The cost of a cup of coffee. 

Will this proposal help the City attract federal and other outside funds?

The City is already actively pursuing matching funds – including federal grants, state support, and philanthropic resources – and it will continue to do so. Unfortunately, these types of funding sources are limited and not stable, and state law prohibits the City from implementing a local carbon tax or raising climate action funds through other non-millage types of local taxes and fees.

How does this proposal affect housing affordability?

Housing affordability is a major problem here. But the millage has been designed to provide tangible benefits that help address the costs of living in Ann Arbor.  A major portion of the proposal’s finances will go to helping these residents lower their energy and water bills, and improve their indoor health, comfort, and safety.  Indeed, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) states “For every dollar spent on energy efficiency programs, customers will save around $4 in avoided energy costs.” 

Will everyone share in the benefits of this proposal?

The millage, just like A2ZERO, is specifically designed to provide the benefits of the clean energy transition to all. To the fullest extent possible, low-income households and communities of color will be a focus in program and service design and implementation.  There is a full-scale clean energy investment planned for the City’s public housing properties.  The proposal also includes working with local and regional partners to support the creation of new family-sustaining jobs that employ residents, especially those from under-represented populations.

Why is it necessary to take action right now?

We are living in a climate emergency. Today’s severe heat waves, hurricanes, droughts, flooding, and wildfires will only worsen as GHGs accumulate in the atmosphere, trapping more heat.  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls the situation “code red for humanity,” and the most recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declare that “any further delay” in global action “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”  With the climate crisis, we either pay now, or we’ll pay much more later.

What role do Ann Arbor and other local communities play in solving the climate crisis?

The City of Ann Arbor is uniquely qualified to lead the way for local climate action.  We are joined by similar municipalities in funding local action plans that have already made an impact.  In fact, over the past two decades, local governments have been the primary actors on the serious issue of climate change with local funds and planning.  Every unit of government throughout the world needs to take action.

How can I contribute to the campaign?

You can contribute today to Say Yes! to Climate Action with a public endorsement, by volunteering or of course contributing to the campaign efforts by clicking the buttons below:

Or send a check to: Ann Arbor Climate Voters, PO Box 4278, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

There are no contribution limits for a ballot campaign.

If a cumulative contribution exceeds $100.00, please provide your occupation, employer and principal place of business (address).  Donations are not tax deductible.