Question: When is a promised, one time, 10-year tax NOT as pledged to the voters?
Answer: When it has to do with the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts).
I supported this temporary tax increase as part of the Grand Bargain to save the DIA and the pensions of the employees of the City of Detroit. I thought this solution was brilliant.
The taxpayers were told that this tax would only be needed for 10 years and the DIA would not seek a renewal.
Fast forward to 2020, this tax is not due to expire until 2020, and not be renewed. The DIA persuaded the County Commissioners of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne, to put a renewal on the March 10, 2020 Presidential ballot. This election will probably be the lowest turnout of any election this year.
Some members of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners pointed out that this was supposed to be a 10-year tax, only. Some of us suggested that if this was going to be placed on the ballot, it should be in the November general election, when voter turnout will be the greatest. That attempt failed.
What adds insult to injury is when this tax increase was approved by voters in 2012. One of the first actions was to give the director of the DIA a 13 percent retroactive pay raise and a $50,000 bonus, and another $50,000 bonus in 2013. His salary went from $455,453 to $514,000. The vice president of the DIA was given a 36 percent pay increase and a $50,000 bonus. Her salary went from approximately $272,000 to $369,366.
I urge a no vote on the DIA renewal on March 10, 2020.
Oakland County Commissioner
Editor’s Note: The Detroit Institute of Arts millage renewal is slated to appear on the March 10, 2020 ballot in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. Voters in each county will decide whether to renew the 0.2 millage that helps fund the DIA, which costs 20 cents per $1,000 of taxable value. The 10-year millage was first passed in 2012. If voters approve the millage renewal, it will continue through 2031.