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DIA Thanks Voters for Millage as Some Cities Continue Fight to Keep the Funds

A lawsuit is before the Wayne County Circuit Court filed by Dearborn and other communities fighting to keep part of the tax dollars in their downtowns.

The Detroit Institute of Arts this month thanked voters for approving a millage last August to support the museum at their announcement of the 2013 Inside|Out installations, even as some communities continue a fight in court to keep a portion of those tax dollars.

Dearborn Heights was among the 25 communities selected to host reproductions of the museum's masterpieces as part of the 2013 program, which will be the first since a millage to help support the DIA was passed in August.

Dearborn hosted the program last summer.

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a tax of 0.2 mills for the next 10 years to help cover the museum's operating costs. In return, tri-county residents will receive free admission to the DIA for the next decade. In the meanwhile, the museum's fundraisers will work to build a sustainable endowment.

"I cannot tell you what an important and critical vote that was," DIA chief operating officer Annmarie Erickson said after the 2013 Inside|Out communities were announced at the museum this month. "Your help really did an amazingly critical thing for the DIA."

"It also was an amazing statement on regionalism," she added. "This kind of back and forth is going to be essential to moving forward in southeast Michigan."

However, the thank you comes as a handful of Wayne County communities—Dearborn and Dearborn Heights among them—continue a fight in court for the right to keep a portion of the tax dollars earmarked for the museum, as well as the Detroit Zoo, for their downtowns.

Erickson did not address the lawsuit in her discussion about the millage, but said to the Detroit Free Press earlier this month that she felt opinion would be split.

"I think your opinion is going to be determined by which side of the fence you're sitting on—either with the zoo and the DIA, which specifically sought millages to support their operations; or with these downtown development authorities, who believe they can capture part of that," she said.

Some Dearborn residents made their allegiance clear, saying what they voted for is where they want the money to go.

"When I voted my approval of the millage for the zoo and the DIA.....I voted for a millage for the zoo and the DIA," commented Dearborn Patch reader Pam Post. "I didn't vote for any other city, including my own, to use the funds for their own purposes."

"(Dearborn) should leave their hands off these funds," added Patch reader Jim. "The voters approved the milages for the DIA and Zoo not to be wasted by our mayor."

No decision on the lawsuit had come from the Wayne County Circuit Court as of Feb. 24.

AbuHak February 24, 2013 at 11:19 PM
I still cannot believe people voted for this millage. Pretty soon every museum will want in on this free money and unite to hit up the tax payers once more with some type of combination Culture & Arts millage. These places should only charge the users an admittance fee and leave those who have no interest in them with no financial obligation. If museums cannot survive with an admittance fee (user fee) then a message is being sent that they are pricing themselves out of the market by having abnormal costs to cover, or people are not interested in their service. The same is true for the ridiculous WCCC millage we all pay. This should definitely be repealed as well.
bitsy08 February 25, 2013 at 02:41 PM
I'm so glad AbuHak that you're among the minority. It's important to keep these valuable assets going. To have our cities abrogate even PART of our vote is - as far as I'm concerned - just another example of underhanded political maneuverings.
Marci February 25, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I stand by my vote for DIA and zoo to receive part of my tax dollars to remain open. No city officials should receive these funds, especially downtown authorities of Dearborn. My city looks so dirty and unattractive so what are they doing with the tax dollars they already have? Shame on you Mayor Orielly and council.
Nickel February 26, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Abu Hak, AGREE with you completely. What this article does not say is that the DIA duped the voters. If you decide to visit this facility when they have a special showing, they CHARGE you even if you are living in the tri-county area. Reason, they have always charged for specialty showings. Where was that on the ballot? I would have agreed that the city should keep their mitts off of the money for which the voters approved, however, after the undermining by the DIA when it comes to admission costs, I say to heck with them, go get the money Dearborn. Nothing but voter fraud by the DIA!

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