County Commissioner: DIA Millage is 'Another Brick in the Wall Against Family'
Oakland County Commissioner Robert Gosselin and three other panelists discussed the upcoming DIA millage request Thursday evening at the Troy Community Center.
While some are singing the praises of the Detroit Institute of Arts and lobbying for approval of a 0.2-mill proposal on Aug. 7, a less vocal group is pushing against the tax increase, including a four-man panel that met to discuss and answer questions about the proposed millage Thursday evening at the Troy Community Center.
Hosted and moderated by Troy City Councilman Doug Tietz, the panel discussion featured Bruce Walker of MichiganView.com, Rep. Tom McMillin, County Commissioner Robert Gosselin, and Simon Haddad of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.
Roughly 30 people – including Troy Mayor Janice Daniels and 41st District State Representative candidate Martin Howrylak – attended the event, which aimed to explain why the proposed millage should be voted down.
"Normally, I would’ve just opposed the DIA tax based on philosophical grounds, but when I started seeing the ads saying they’d have to close their doors ... I said, that’s it," McMillin said. "That day, I put together a press release and looked at their financials."
McMillin, who spoke first Thursday night and has been a very vocal opponent of the DIA millage proposal, said he has crunched the DIA's numbers, and they don't add up.
"For the last two years, they’ve increased their net worth by 50 million dollars," he said, holding up a handmade sign to illustrate his point. "It’s pretty rare. I would argue they’ve done a pretty good job.”
While McMillin argued the necessity of the millage request, Gosselin said he is concerned how the tax will affect the future generation of taxpayers.
“A lot of it is stress on the children. You’re hurting the children. ... $15 here, $20 there ... it starts adding up," Gosselin said. "This is just another brick in the wall against family."
Gosselin said he believes residents in Oakland County are taxed enough, and an additional tax like the DIA millage places unnecessary stress on residents.
“I look at this as another tax, another thing where government is growing bigger ... and we’re in an area where we’re depressed," he said. "People are losing their homes, their jobs – now the government wants more money.”
While some of the panelists questioned the assertion that the DIA is a cultural gem, Walker called it "a terrific institution staffed by terrific individuals filled with terrific artwork" and said he enjoys visiting.
However, he said, "My enjoyment should not be out of your paycheck."
Proponents of the DIA millage have argued additional operating revenue for a decade is needed to avoid reducing the current DIA public access of 36 hours over five days each week. "An operating endowment of $72 million provides funding for approximately 20 percent of annual operations," millage campaign spokesman Bob Berg told Patch last month.
A representative from the DIA was not invited to Thursday's panel discussion, Tietz said. Calls from Patch to the DIA seeking comment were not immediately returned Friday morning.
The millage request will be on ballots in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties on Aug. 7. A levy of 0.2 mills means property owners would pay $10 for every $100,000 of taxable value shown on municipal tax statements.