Arts & Culture
4:12 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Legislation proposed to block communities from keeping funds for Detroit Zoo and DIA

The Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts are supposed to get a cut of taxes collected from the greater metro region.

But dozens of cities and townships have been holding out, thanks to tax loopholes.

Republican Representative Eileen Kowall says the people of Metro Detroit voted to send these taxes to the zoo and the DIA.

She says letting cities hold back that money for their own projects is just wrong.   “As soon as I found out what was going on, at first I was incredulous. Then I was outraged at what was going on. So I decided to jump right in there and get it taken care.”

She continued, “Oakland, Macomb and Wayne voters all came together and agreed to help fund the Zoo and help fund the D-I-A.  They certainly were not voting for sidewalks in Taylor.”

Her staff researched a variety of tax-capturing devices.  She says they went back to an 1837 railroad tax capture, “because of the possibility that the RTA will be going in, in Detroit.  So we wanted to cover all our bases.”

Now she's introducing a package of seven bills today that would plug those holes.

But a number of the cities have filed a legal action requesting a clarification over spending special millage funds.

They say they need that money to do everything from fixing sidewalks to paying firefighters. 

What millages?

  • On August 5, 2008 voters in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties passed a zoo tax that provides long-term sustainable funding to supplement earned revenue and philanthropic support.
  • Last fall – another millage was passed in those same counties for the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Counties that passed the millage have free admission to the museum.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio News