Letter to the Editor: Issues with Detroit Institute of Arts Millage

White Lake resident Diane Chrzanowski writes about her concerns with the millage proposal from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The following is a letter to the editor from Diane Chrzanowski.

Detroit Institute of Arts Millage - Biggest FRAUD Ever!

The language on the ballot for the DIA millage request does not mention that it is for the Detroit Institute of Arts. If you don't pay attention to newspapers, you're likely to think that the above millage request was for a facility or facilities in Oakland County. Well, it is NOT for an Oakland County facility.

All Democrat and 6 Republican Oakland County Commissioners also defeated a resolution that would have clarified that if the millage failed in any of the other counties, the overall millage would fail. This action deliberately leaves us in a position to be the only county funding the DIA if it fails in the other 2 counties.

Other reasons to vote NO on this millage:

- we can not pick up the tab for bad management of all of the Detroit facilities.

- the DIA raised $170 million for an 8 year total remodeling project built during the worst ecomonic years in Michigan in decades with little concern for future operating costs.

- the zoo has a millage now, if the DIA millage passes, I guarantee you that more will come, the DSO, Opera House, etc.

- the DIA has endowments of over $100,000,000 and a basement full of art that could be sold to raise funds.

Language on ballot:


The Oakland County Art Institute Authority established pursuant to Public Act 296 of 2010 to allow for continuing support of art institute services for the students, residents and visitors of Oakland County. The law allows the Authority to seek authorization from the electors to levy a tax of not more than 0.2 mill (20 cents per $1,000 of taxable value) on real and personal property to provide revenue to an art institute services provider for this purpose. Accordingly, to continue providing art institute services to benefit the residents of Oakland County, shall a 0.2 mill on all of the taxable property located within the County be imposed for a period of ten (10) years, being years 2012 through 2021? It is estimated that if approved and levied, this new millage would generate approximately $9,847,191 in 2012.

The viewpoints in this letter are those of the writer, and Patch is not responsible for any ideas portrayed as facts. For questions and clarifications, please leave a comment below or contact editor Brooke Meier at brooke.meier@patch.com or 248-534-7203.

Diane June 15, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I neglected to mention the $2,000,000 the DIA has allotted of their 'meager' funds to campaign for this tax payer bailout. Sounds like a paltry amount until you add up all of the current millage requests and future increases. We all know that government funded project costs run much higher than privately held since there is no incentive to hold them down.
Diane June 15, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The 'paltry' amount should have been clarified to mean the actual millage request of .02 mill.
Savvy Shopper July 06, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I think it is important to contribute to the DIA as a regional asset. The DIA provides education and culture to all people. It is important to teach our children about the world and it's art at an early age. The city of Detroit contributes to the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Authority, even though there is no Metropark location in Detroit. If $15 is too much to spend per year on a jewel like the DIA for you then maybe you can cut down on your spending at the Hall Road strip mall - which provide very minimal culture and education. The money dedicated to the DIA through this millage would be controlled by a Regional Authority similar to the Metroparks Authority and not controlled by the City of Detroit. Once the facts are presented honestly, I think more people will support this DIA Millage!
Diane July 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Sure, then the director can get a raise from his meager $400,000.00 salary, plus his $100,000.00 travel budget which includes his wife, plus his fringe benefits! I love how all of these fine, upstanding institutions must take from taxpayers, because they can't manage the finances, instead of from the patrons who actually use those facilities. If you truly want to show your support, by all means send them your money. I know several DIA members that do not want this tax. There is mismanagement at the center of the lack of funding - fix that first. Why should Oakland County be the only county on the hook if Wayne & Macomb defeat the millage? If I choose to spend MY money at the local mall it is MY choice! Who are you to judge what anyone chooses to spend their hard earned money on - that is the problem with taking from those who work and giving it to those who think they know better how to spend it. Time to investigate the DIA - oh wait - they don't have to share their financial information! The DIA will NOT cease to exist if the millage fails - they will just have to cut back like those of us in the private sector, or try fundraising.
Peggy Miller July 06, 2012 at 04:16 AM
I'm afraid that you have misunderstood how the Art Institute Authority will actually work; They will have no 'control' of this money. It will simply be collected by the county and turned over, by the 'authority', to the DIA. However, the real problem here is that it is NOT the function of government to support an art institute. That is the responsibility of those individuals, corporations, and other groups who wish to sufficiently support the arts so that they remain solvent. That $9,847,191 would go a long way to fund those FEW entities that are actually supposed to be supported by our tax dollars! If we give the DIA '$15', whose hand goes out next? Using your (lack of) logic, anything seen as 'beneficial' to society should be supported by our tax dollars!! Please move to Europe!
Jane Taylor July 12, 2012 at 06:56 AM
DIA wasted millions to renovate and then did not take the opportunity to charge admission. This is not what people in the private sector would do and this is inexcusable that this sort of wreckless spending is enabled. Find a new director and start the person out at a reasonable salary. Let people continue to have their tax deductions and give people incentives for going there. Circulate the art that has been in storage.
Shelby Township July 26, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I don't see how the DIA, with $100 million of unrestricted funds and a total fund balance of $175 million, can claim they they'll fail (close their doors) without these millages. Part of their operating plan is to increase their fund balance to $400 million by the time the millages expire in 10 years. Doesn't sound like they're going broke to me. It just looks like they want the tri-county taxpayers to bail them out from the tax cuts they received from the state. If this was such a good plan why don't the ballot proposals mention that the County Art Institute Authorities will be turning over the monies they collect to the DIA? Why do they say an Institute Services Provider instead? Was this done to confuse voters into thinking the millages were going to support Art in their own county? Very shady.
Elizabeth Marks July 27, 2012 at 12:46 AM
The Arts Authority Tax is a pass through for the Detroit Institute of Arts. They know people neglect to vote in a primary. Oakland, Wayne & Macomb counties are all considering this question August 7. Macomb tie-barred passage to Oakland and Wayne. Wayne requires 60% of its qualified voters to pass a tax increase. SO, OAKLAND COUNTY MAY BE THE ONLY COUNTY SUPPORTING THE DIA! - A motion to tie-bar Oakland to Macomb & Wayne failed. - The DItA's $154 million expansion in 2007 was apparently oblivious to the collapsing housing market. Who does their books? - all the Zoo and DIA assets are owned by the City of Detroit. They pay zero. - both operating agreements require 67% employment of Detroit citizens. - In 2002 the County Board established a Metropolitan Arts & Culture Council to place a .5 mills on the ballot to support 22 institutions (Zoo, DIA, Henry Ford, DSO, DScience Ctr) but it included several OC institutions AND WAS TIE-BARRED TO THE OTHER TWO COUNTIES! Zoo legislation was changed for 2018 so they can ask for .2 mils. Other groups are waiting in line. Don't imply that those who do not support this initiative have no culture. I have attended many art events at my choosing and there are DIA supporters who believe asking for public support is wrong. Look at your tax bill and count the number of taxes we are paying. It's time to vote no and make these governing boards/administrators more accountable. Take a lesson from Oakland County government!
Greg Donahoe July 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I oppose the millage as well. The DIA has a Board of Directors of 44 people. A meager two seats per county that approves this millage is being offered. This does not allow for effective oversight of tax dollars. Also, the DIA hs replaced BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) because they are a 'secular institution'. The DIA suffers from poor management and lax oversight which will only get worse should this millage pass. Have a proper restructuring and then perhaps we can discuss some support.
steve johnson August 09, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The next millage in November will be for the voters to pay off the ever increasing debt that Detroit keeps racking up, after all Detroit claims that we need to take care them because without them everything would fall apart (besides it's only your money, and Detroit knows how to spend it wisely, without any outside help).


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