The Ann Arbor City Council last week approved borrowing about $30 million to finance a new police department and district court building near City Hall. The approval came despite a petition drive that urged the proposed bond issue be put on the November ballot.

Under the plan, Ann Arbor would issue tax-exempt bonds to help finance construction of a $47 million building that would house the city’s district court and its 200-member police department. Critics — who gathered 5,500 signatures on a petition requesting a vote on the proposal — charge that the building is too costly and would impact the city budget, according to local news reports.

Debt service on the proposed 30-year bonds would come from a mix of sources, including lease payments, court fines, and an annual $520,000 contribution from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Meanwhile, the developer of a large mixed-use project near the University of Michigan Health System medical campus in the city said he would seek up to $40 million of tax-exempt financing from Michigan to help finance a piece of the $172 million development.

East Lansing-based Strathmore Development Co. is building 185 residential units, 138,000 square feet of retail, medical office space, and a parking garage on the site of a former grocery store and dry-cleaning store in Ann Arbor. Leftover dry-cleaning chemicals on the site qualified the project for brownfield remediation funding.

Strathmore would use state-issued bonds to help finance construction of a parking structure, environmental cleanup, and infrastructure improvements.

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