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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 05/02/12
Commissioners to vote
on DIA authority May 3
by CHRIS GRAYThe Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is two-thirds of the way to proposing a millage to Macomb County residents.
Observer Staff Writer
The Macomb County Board of Commissioners voted 8-5 in favor of publishing articles that detail the establishment of an art authority on April 24.
A public hearing and a final vote on the art authority will take place on Thursday, May 3.
If approved, the authority will propose a 10-year 0.2 millage on the Aug. 7 ballot that would raise money to support the operations of the DIA.
Dist. 4 County Commissioner Dave Flynn was one of the supporting votes at the April 24 meeting. He said the county should view the DIA as a regional asset, like the Huron-Clinton Metroparks or Detroit Zoo.
"The voters of Macomb County should be afforded the opportunity to decide on this important issue," he said.
The DIA is approaching Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties with a millage proposal that would raise an estimated $23 million a year. The proposal would be 0.2 mills, or $10 a year for every $100,000 of a home's fair market value.
The millage funding would be designated for operating the museum while it invests its funds to eventually be independent of the millage.
In return for providing tax dollars, residents in the counties that approve of the millage would have free admission to the museum for the duration of the millage.
Annmarie Erickson, chief operating officer of the DIA, was pleased the full board was in favor of the concept, and hopes for another favorable vote on May 3.
"I think what happened is the commissioners had continuing questions, and we were able to meet and provide that information that satisfied their questions," she said.
She said the DIA had to contend with Detroit's financial struggles in speaking with the tri-county governments about the millage, but believes most concerns have been addressed.
Should county commissioners vote in favor of the issue, a group of appointees selected by the county executive and commissioners would form an art authority.
This authority will create a service contract the DIA will agree to uphold as well as creating language for a millage. The authority turning over the funds to the DIA so long as they abide by the contract.
Both issues will be decided upon in the August primary by voters.
Erickson said the DIA selected the August ballot instead of the November ballot since this year is a presidential election.
"We're following the same strategy that the Detroit Zoo successfully followed in 2008," she said. "We feel strongly that it will be easier to make our case in August as opposed to the November ballot, which will be crowded."
To have the millage on the August ballot, Erickson said the authorities must have the authority established by May 29.
Wayne County has already approved of an art authority. Oakland County is expected to vote on the issue May 7.