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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 08/15/12
Macomb voters narrowly
approve new DIA tax
Majority of local residents
vote against 0.2 millage
by CHRIS GRAYMacomb County voters joined Oakland and Wayne counties in supporting the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), but just barely.
Observer Staff Writer
The results of the Aug. 7 primary revealed just over half of Macomb County voters supported a 0.2 millage that will fund the operations of the DIA for the next 10 years.
In a close race, 63,270 voters (50.5 percent) gave a "yes" vote to the new tax, while 61,930 (49.5 percent) decided to vote "no."
Annmarie Erickson, DIA chief operating officer, said the results were gratifying but the DIA was closely watching the Macomb County race throughout the day.
"We knew Macomb would be our biggest challenge," she said. "We're thrilled that we won in Macomb County."
The majority of voters in the northern Macomb County communities were against the millage. In Bruce Township, the vote was 797 for it and 1,343 against it, and in Washington Township 2,118 were for it and 2,592 were against it.
In Ray Township, 314 voted for it and 600 were against it. Armada Township's totals were 394 in favor and 642 against it.
Oakland and Wayne voters were more supportive of the millage. In Oakland County, the results were 64 percent in favor and 36 percent against it, while in Wayne County 68 percent voted for it and 32 percent against it.
"We felt we made a very strong case to the residents of the three counties and we're glad the voters turned out and responded," Erickson said.
The millage is expected to bring in $23 million on an annual basis to help cover the annual operating budget of $25 million. The City of Detroit and the state have reduced and eliminated their funding of the museum since 1990.
Macomb County will give $5 million in revenue the first year of the collection, Oakland County will provide $10 million and Wayne County will hand over $8 million. The collection will begin with the winter tax roll.
The millage will cost homeowners $0.20 per every $1,000 on their property's taxable value on an annual basis for 10 years.
Joanne Caruana-Hayes of Romeo was one of the voters who is happy the DIA will be supported. She said she has been a long-time member of the museum.
"I go down there all the time," she said.
Mary Probst, a Bruce Township resident and first-time voter, said she was in support of the millage since she has participated in art forms like singing.
"The DIA is just a way for artists to express themselves and their abilities," she said.
Others, like Bill Ellis of Bruce Township, were against the tax increase. The retired resident said he didn't need another tax on his property, especially for something he rarely utilizes.
"If I want to go and see what they have<and it's a beautiful facility<I'll pay for it," he said. "We get down there maybe once a year."
Khalood Bojanowski of Washington Township gave a resounding vote against the millage, saying she didn't support it because of the extra tax and the museum's location.
"Why would I pay them more money when now I've got to work and pay them," she said. "Why would I have to pay for the DIA when I'm afraid to go there and get killed."
No organized opposition was formed regarding the millage.
The next step
Erickson said the DIA is providing free admission to residents from the counties that had the issue on their ballots.
Each county established an art authority that will provide the tax revenue to the DIA so long as it adheres to the contract held with each authority. They will meet at least once a year to ensure the contract is being fulfilled, Erickson said.
"People won't see any major changes until later on in the next calendar year<it gives us time to plan and implement thoughtfully," she said.