We’re grateful that a majority of Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb county voters casting ballots in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election voted to authorize a millage to support the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). We’d like to believe voters’ approval of the millage serves as an early sign of a new era of regional cooperation and pride.
Primary election voters in the three counties were asked to consider a 10-year, 0.2-mill levy to raise $23 million per year for the 127-year-old museum on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, with $10 million of that being generated in Oakland County. The millage will provide financial support for the museum over the next 10 years while the DIA ramps up private sector fund-raising activities to bolster its $100 million endowment to $300 million — a figure that should generate enough interest income to cover the DIA’s annual operating expenses.
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 will cost the owner of a property with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) $20 in the first year of the collection.
According to unofficial primary election voting results, 143,274 Oakland voters supported the DIA millage (63.68 percent), while 81,703 (36.32 percent) voted against it. In Wayne, 163,543 (68.15 percent) of voters backed the DIA millage, with 76,444 (31.85 percent) voting against it. It was a much more narrow margin of approval in Macomb, where 63,270 people (50.5 percent) voted in favor of the millage, and 61,930 (49.5 percent) voted against it.
We’re pleased that voters recognized the importance of pitching in to support a cultural and regional gem that’s beyond compare in southeast Michigan. Failure to authorize the millage would have jeopardized access to the DIA’s world-class collections and programs. It also would have signaled a continuation of the paralyzing parochialism that has pitted Detroit and its suburbs against each other on a variety of issues for far too long. Last week’s voting sends a message to companies mulling investment in southeast Michigan that culture and regional cooperation aren’t dead, but are in place to play their roles in leading the way toward a revitalized and enhanced quality of life for the entire region.
One of the benefits of the millage approval — along with new educational and public outreach programs — is that Oakland County residents will receive free admission to the museum for the life of the tax. That new perk began on Wednesday, Aug. 8, so head down to the DIA to celebrate a crucial victory for the whole region and to experience some of the finest art on the planet. <f"Z