On March 10, voters in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties soundly approved a millage renewal for the Detroit Institute of Arts. The renewed millage runs from 2022 through 2031.

On March 10, voters in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties soundly approved a millage renewal for the Detroit Institute of Arts. The renewed millage runs from 2022 through 2031.

File photo provided by Christine Kloostra


DIA millage renewal passes in all three counties

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published March 10, 2020

MACOMB/OAKLAND/WAYNE COUNTIES — On March 10, voters in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties approved a millage renewal for the Detroit Institute of Arts.

With all precincts reporting by the morning of March 11, Oakland and Wayne counties both saw 76% of voters say “yes” to the renewal. In Macomb County, the vote was 62% in favor of the renewal.

The millage was first passed in August 2012, when residents of the three counties voted to support the DIA with a 0.2 millage. In 2012, the millage was for 10 years, extending through 2021.

The millage renewal sought to collect 0.2 mills, which is 20 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property, or $15 a year for a home valued at $150,000.

In a phone interview with C&G Newspapers March 11, DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said the positive vote in Macomb County tells him that the DIA is doing good work in the community and that residents appreciate programs for schools and seniors.

“We’re going to continue working hard to improve the quality and number of our programs and exhibitions,” he said.

Salort-Pons said the DIA is grateful for the overwhelming support.

“In Macomb County in 2012, we won only by around 1,000 votes,” he said. “This time, it was over 50,000, which is unbelievable.”

In February, Salort-Pons said before the millage originally passed in 2012, museum visitation was about 300,000 a year. He said that number now is close to 700,000.

Jennifer Callans, chair of the Macomb County Art Institute Authority, previously said if the millage isn’t renewed, that would mean no more free general admission.

The Macomb County Art Institute Authority is one of three county authorities that serves as the fiduciaries for the funds collected from the county for the DIA, negotiates the service contract with the DIA and monitors the DIA’s financial audits. The other two authorities operate in a similar way for Oakland and Wayne counties.

To those who voted against the renewal, Salort-Pons said the DIA wants to demonstrate the museum is servicing them and that its an asset that makes this region a great place to live.

Ballot language for the renewal stated that as a result of the millage, the DIA provides Macomb County residents with free K-12 school field trips including free transportation, free senior group programming with free transportation, and unlimited free general admission.

In February, St. Clair Shores City Councilman Chris Vitale said with the DIA choosing to put the renewal on a Democrat Primary ballot, “that’s pretty much loading the deck.”

He said while the millage was initially meant to be a one-time rescue for the museum, he feared this would be “yet another millage that’s going to continue on in perpetuity.”

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, who represents District 13, which includes most of Macomb Township, last month said “If you add up all the money that’s sent to the DIA from Macomb County, and divide it by the number of people who visit the DIA, from Macomb, it ends up costing about $60 a person.”

He argued that it costs Macomb County residents more to visit, than general admission.

“It’s not all free, and everybody pays for it,” Drolet said. “They’re talking as if nobody is paying for all that stuff.”

Revenue collected from the millage will be disbursed to the Art Institute Authority and then transferred to the DIA. Now that the millage is approved, it is estimated that approximately $5.8 million will be generated in 2022.

The renewed millage runs from 2022 through 2031.