Following a divided vote in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners General Government Committee on Monday, May 7 to pass a resolution creating the Oakland County Art Institute Authority — a stepping stone toward getting a funding measure for the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot — the county board is expected to consider the proposal tomorrow, Thursday, May 17.
Several commissioners, including Shelley Taub (R-Orchard Lake) and John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) said they expect the county’s 25-member governing body to give the DIA’s request its blessing.
The 127-year-old DIA, located on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, is asking voters in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties to approve a levy of up to 0.2 mills for no more than 10 years to generate funding for general operations.
A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, which is generally equal to half the property’s market value. A 0.2-mill levy would cost the owner of a property in the county with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) $20 a year.
The authority would have two unpaid members appointed by the county executive and three unpaid members appointed by Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion), although that is a new provision in the resolution that originally called for the full county board to appoint those three members.
Scott said he took umbrage with that amendment that was approved in the General Government Committee earlier this month, but stressed that his displeasure has nothing to do with Gingell.
“They took the power away from the Board of Commissioners and the General Government Committee to vet (the three candidates),” he said.
The authority members appointed by the county executive would serve four-year terms and the members appointed by the county board chairman would serve two-year terms. The Oakland County treasurer would serve as a non-voting member of the board.
According to DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson, the institute’s roughly $25 million operating budget is funded largely from donations — 44 percent from private contributions, and another 39 percent from memberships and admissions, which are considered contributions to the museum — while another 15 percent comes from investment income.
Approximately 2 percent of the institute’s revenues came from a “small operating grant” of about $375,000 from the city of Detroit.
DIA Spokeswoman Pamela Marcil said that, if passed in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties, the levy that would first be collected with the winter tax bills would generate a total of roughly $23 million for the museum, with approximately $10 million of that coming from Oakland County taxpayers.
By Tuesday, May 29, ballot language would have to be submitted to the county Clerk/Register of Deeds Office in order for a tax question to appear on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot.
Officials in both Wayne and Macomb counties have approved placing the measure before voters in August.