City Commissioners to Consider Housing Project Tax Relief and Treasurer’s Termination


Traverse City commissioners will consider on Monday approving tax relief for a 53-unit apartment complex project on Garfield Avenue owned by development group Woda Cooper Companies, a project that sees more than half of the units dedicated to being dedicated residents making 70 to 80 percent of the regional median income (MAI). Commissioners will also vote on Monday to uphold the recent removal by City Manager Marty Colburn of City Treasurer Kelli Martin, with The teleprinter obtain personal documents showing Colburn berated Martin for performance issues shortly before his dismissal.

Annika Place Apartments PILOT Accord
Woda Cooper Companies, which this month opened a new apartment complex on Wellington Street, already has its next project in mind: a four-story, 53-unit apartment building called Annika Place at 947 South Garfield Avenue.

Woda is seeking a payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) agreement with the city that would allow the company to pay six percent of rental income per year in place of traditional taxes. PILOTS have been used elsewhere in the city as an economic tool to offset the costs of real estate developers building affordable or low-income housing. Under the agreement, Woda’s annual payment to the city would be approximately $ 5,300. PILOT approval “would result in a reduction in the tax bill of approximately $ 52,200 per year once the development is fully constructed, making this development possible,” Deputy City Manager Penny Hill wrote in a note to Commissioners. The PILOT would be in place for 16 years, from 2023 to 2039; construction on Annika Place is scheduled to begin in April 2023 and end in June 2024.

According to Woda, the 54,310-square-foot apartment complex (pictured, rendered) – which will span three plots – will contain 29 one-bedroom units averaging 652 square feet and 24 two-bedroom units of an average of 815 square feet, six of which are barrier-free. units offered. Thirty-four units, or 64 percent of all buildings, will be for tenants earning between 70 and 80 percent of the region’s median income (AMI). “At 80% MAI, a single person could earn up to $ 47,600 and live in Annika Place and a family of four could earn up to $ 68,000,” according to Woda. “Rents for achievable labor units are targeted at $ 860 / $ 875 for one-bedroom units and $ 1,000 / $ 1,050 for two-bedroom units.” Tenants will be responsible for services. public, with garbage collection included in rent. Facilities will include energy efficient appliances and an outdoor community space with a grill, picnic tables, benches, bike racks and a small ‘tot-lot’. ” for kids.

Woda’s estimated total investment in Annika Place is $ 13.5 million, including construction costs of $ 8.6 million. The developers proposed two design alternatives for the building, one with vehicle access from a neighboring property to the south and one with vehicle access from Garfield Avenue. Staff recommend having vehicle access from the south to eliminate an additional trip on Garfield and reduce traffic conflicts. Staff also recommend moving the sidewalk adjacent to Garfield away from the street to align with the sidewalk to the south and moving trees between the sidewalk and the curb. If Woda’s PILOT is approved on Monday, the development group will then submit an application for funding to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSDHA) by the state’s Oct. 1 deadline.

Treasurer Termination
City commissioners will vote on Monday to confirm the recent dismissal of city manager Marty Colburn from city treasurer Kelli Martin. The post of city treasurer is one of two positions – the other being that of city clerk – that cannot be hired or fired without the approval of at least five commissioners, as these two positions serve to control the power of spend of the city manager. Commissioners will also be asked on Monday to support the appointment of Assistant Treasurer and Deputy Director of Finance James Henderson to serve as interim treasurer until a hiring process can be initiated for a new treasurer.

Colburn had previously refused to discuss the cause of Martin’s dismissal with The Ticker, saying it was city policy not to talk about personnel issues. Through a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), The teleprinter obtained Martin’s personal file, which included two separate emails from Colburn to Martin in August berating her for performance issues. In an email, Martin said he was writing to attorney Martin about “inappropriate comments to the management team” after staff met to discuss possible options for transportation services. city ​​emergency. According to Colburn, as staff reviewed a crucial financial report at the meeting, Martin repeatedly complained that the team was “nitpicking” the report – even after Colburn said the characterization was inaccurate and pointed out the importance of the review process to Martin.

“Your comment was deemed disrespectful and rude, and I see it as an act of disrespect for the efforts of the whole team, especially when you kept repeating the statement… as a manager, this type of behavior has a negative effect. about our organization, ”he wrote.

In another email, Colburn said he berated Martin for a “lack of performance” over the past few months, saying there had been “a noticeable lack of adherence to direct orders for the tasks you were assigned to do. entrusted “. Colburn said he repeatedly asked Martin to meet with department heads in person as part of the budget review process and that she ignored those instructions. “The directive was clear and concise. I recently learned that this directive was still not respected, ”he wrote. “It is imperative that our department heads have a clear understanding of the budgets for which they are responsible. I am justified in taking the highest disciplinary action against you because of the repeated insubordination; However, for now, I have taken a lenient stance and decided to write a letter of rebuke. “

This email was sent to Martin on August 10th. Almost a month later, on September 8, Colburn sent a letter to Martin stating that he was terminating her with immediate effect. Noting that Martin’s position was at will and that she could be “released from her job without cause,” Colburn said Martin’s dismissal was a “difficult but necessary decision in the best interests of the city of Traverse City” .

Martin’s dismissal was originally scheduled to be on the October 4 city committee agenda, but was postponed until Monday on the recommendation of City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht. When asked if Martin’s dismissal was legally enforceable until the city council votes to approve the dismissal, Trible-Laucht said The teleprinter she could only comment that “the charter provides that the city manager can only dismiss the city treasurer with the consent of five members of the city commission”.

Although Martin could not be reached for comment, her husband – Christopher Martin – says his wife is still on the city’s payroll and received compensation after her September 8 layoff date. Martin has the right to address city commissioners before their vote on Monday, with the board having the option of meeting behind closed doors. However, Christopher Martin says his wife “has no desire to return to this environment”. He adds, “She hasn’t done anything illegal, immoral or unethical.”

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