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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 03/06/13
Judge examines lawsuit
against DIA tax issue
by CHRIS GRAYA lawsuit against the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been halted to determine if it is legal.
Observer Staff Writer
The DIA and Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) are currently awaiting a decision from Circuit Court Judge John Foster on whether a lawsuit against the DIA will proceed.
The MTA filed the lawsuit on Dec. 6, saying the DIA isn't keeping promises made to provide free admission for residents after a millage supporting the DIA was passed.
On Feb. 25, Foster held the lawsuit to take it under advisement. There was no indication given as to how long the decision will take.
A contract agreed upon by the new Macomb County Art Institute Authority and the DIA states the museum will "provide unlimited, free museum admission for all residents of Macomb County, including self-guided student field trips."
MTA Chairperson Leon Drolet said the DIA hasn't lived up to this since it still asks museum-goers to pay admission for special exhibits, such as the recent "Fabregé" exhibit.
"If the citizens of Macomb County do not have standing to hold people accountable for a contract they signed on behalf of the people who does," he said. "The DIA appears to want people's money and tax dollars, and yet also pay admission."
The DIA is arguing that the contract is between Macomb County and the members of the Art Authority. A spokesperson for the attorneys representing the DIA declined to comment, saying the case is still ongoing.
DIA officials have argued that the free admission doesn't cover special exhibits, but does cover activities like live music, art-making workshops and tours.
The lawsuit was filed by Drolet as well as by Dennis and Judy Buchholtz, Philis Desaele and Simon Haddad.
The 0.2 millage gained approval from 50.5 percent of Macomb County voters and is expected to raise $5 million to support the DIA. Combined with Wayne and Oakland counties, the museum will receive about $23 million a year.