January 21, 2022

TAX ALERT: DIA Millage Considered by Macomb County Board of Commissioners

Macomb County MichiganThe Economic Development Committee of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners will be voting to place a millage on the August primary ballot to help fund the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).  The ballot initiative already stalled once in the Economic Development Committee but is coming around again for a second try.

The committee’s vote will take place on Friday April 20 at 1 p.m. The first vote was split 4-4 with Commissioners Flynn, Miller, Moceri and Tocco voting for the millage while Commissioners Carabelli, Gralewski, Sabatini and Smith voted against the initiative.  It is expected that it will be a close vote again and the outcome is not assured. Please consider the following when deciding whether this vote to give Macomb County tax dollars to support the DIA is money well spent:

  • Taxpayer money will be collected by the “DIA Taxing Authority”.
  • This money will be spent by an appointed board with no input from the voters.  Commissioners want to let the people decide the DIA issue.  However, if the millage passes, authority over the DIA funds will be given to a panel, 2/3 of which must be appointed and/or approved by County Executive Mark Hackel.
  • DIA officials want to place the millage on the August ballot because of the historically low voter turnout. (DIA officials “only” have $1.5 million to spend on promoting this millage and want to leverage their special interest votes.)
  • The DIA Director makes “under $500,000” per year (The President of the United States makes $400,000).  In addition, the DIA has 10 curators listed on their 2010 audit.  This does not include assistant curators or internist curators who are also listed on this audit.
  • The DIA has been financially self-sustaining for the past two years. Why do they want the money?
  • Macomb County taxpayers already pay a Zoo tax, a Cobo Hall tax and are slated to pay to upgrade Belle Isle.  The County Board of Commissioners are also considering a regional bus rapid transit system (BRT).  Should Macomb County write another check to an external entity?
  • Many municipalities in Macomb County are considering tax increases to address the shortfall in revenues from falling real estate values and subsequent property tax losses.
  • The City of Detroit is set to receive massive bailouts from the state.
  • In the prior Economic Development Committee meeting discussing the DIA issue on April 11, the Macomb County corporation council referred to “possible mis-use of taxpayers funds from the zoo millage”.  The DIA millage is being modeled after the zoo millage.

Examples of  fiscal irresponsibility, massive corruption and criminal activities by the elected officials of Detroit and Wayne County has been documented for decades.  When will it end?  Why should Macomb County taxpayers enable Detroit and Wayne County to continue their dysfunctional administrations by sending taxpayer money to them with no accountability?

Grab the attention of the County Commissioners on the Economic Development Committee regarding this continued push toward more big regional government spending by attending the meeting.

Date: Friday, April 20, 1 p.m.  Citizens may speak for five minutes each at the beginning of the meeting.
Location: Macomb County Administration Building (corner of Main St. & Cass), Mt Clemens, MI.  Parking is available South of the building (metered parking, bring quarters).

If you can’t attend, contact the County Commissioners on the Economic Development Committee as follows:

Macomb County Board of Commissioners – Economic Development Committee
District Commissioner Phone Email
1 Toni Moceri 586-469-5125 or 586-619-9054 tonimoceri@gmail.com
4 David Flynn (co-chair) 586-612-3088 dave.flynn10@gmail.com
5 Ray Gralewski 586-469-5125 or 586-925-3075 Ray.gralewski@macombcountymi.gov
6 James Carabelli (co-chair) 586-469-5125 or 586-781-3050 jimcarabelli@comcast.net
9 Fred Miller 586-469-5125 or 586-468-4241 fred.miller@macombcountymi.gov or fred@thefredmillerspot.com
11 Kathy Tocco 586-469-5125 kathy.tocco@macombcountymi.gov
12 Bob Smith 586-469-5125 or 586-489-4590 bob.smith@macombcountymi.gov
13 Joe Sabatini 586-469-5125 joe.sabatini@macombcountymi.gov



  1. Louis Redhage says

    I am getting really tired of bailing out operations ( zoo, GM, Detroit etc.) because they are so mismanaged and do nothing but squander my hard earned tax dollars. I think those people who elect, hire or whatever the case is, should be the ones on the hook for success or failure of their own enterpirse not the tax payer. And to try put this to a vote in August when nobody is paying attention and won’t take the time to go vote until November is a typical scam of those who want to fleece us. Stop Raising My Damn Taxes to promote your agendas!

  2. Cindy DeNardis says

    I asked them all to vote YES on the Millage!
    If you don’t have ART, you don’t have anything!

    • Cindy, You present a false choice. Your position seems to be that if we don’t give this money to the DIA we will have no art. “Art” willl not disappear if this miilage fails. I also appreciate art and believe it is a core essence of being human. However, the issue is a group of people decide what my money will be sepnt on. We have unfunded liabilities in police and fire pensions, cities in Maacomb County running deficets and all kinds of other problems. Why should be give money to unaccountable outsiders for “art” when we can’t pay our own bills?

    • Erin Stahl says

      Dear Cindy,
      How many times have you personally visited the DIA? A museum? The science center?
      How many times have you personally promoted a group of children or adults to visit the above?
      Are you even aware of or visited the Arts/Cultural jewels in your community or in Macomb?
      These programs exist because of patrons and benefactor’s passion not because of gov’t.
      —If you want ART please spend your own money on it…don’t force the rest of us to pay for it.
      —If you really knew how our money was being managed, you wouldn’t be so willing to open up your wallet (or ours).
      —The amazing fact is that if they were forced to operate within their budget, they would find a way.
      —Try checking out some books on how the community pulled together in the Great Depression to keep the arts and libraries alive–it is quite fascinating. Maybe we should learn from history….I am not willing to create huge financial problems for my nieces and nephews to struggle with. Why would you do it for the children in your life?

      BTW: I am a former Mayor ProTem with a Master’s in Finance who loved living in Detroit (1992-1998) and experiencing as much of its history as I can still today.

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