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DIA, SMART Millage Proposals Ask County Voters to Add, Renew Taxes

Two millage proposals will appear on the Aug. 7 ballots of all Oakland County voters.

After Oakland County voters have nominated their picks for local, county and state offices Aug. 7, they will be asked to vote on two countywide millage proposals.

SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) and the Oakland County Art Institute Authority are both asking for tax dollars. SMART's .59 mills is up for a two-year renewal, while the art institute millage introduces a new tax to benefit the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for 10 years.

Although the top portion of the primary ballot is partisan, meaning voters must select all Republican or all Democratic candidates, the proposal section is separate. Even if a voter accidentally splits his or her ticket, thus invalidating the partisan portion, the proposals' section will still be counted.

Arts Authority, or DIA, Millage

What it is:

Although you won’t see any reference to the “Detroit Institute of Arts” or even the word “museum” in the language of this proposal, this millage is intended to benefit the DIA.

The Oakland County board of commissioners voted in May to create an Art Institute Authority that would be responsible for submitting the millage question for the August ballot and monitoring the use of funds if it passes.

If approved, this proposal would levy .2 mills on Oakland County taxpayers for a period of 10 years. The revenue from this millage would, in turn, provide financial support for the DIA.

Cost: 

At 0.2 mills, a taxpayer owning a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would be expected to pay approximately $20 a year. This tax would begin with December 2012 property tax bills and end in 2021.

This millage is expected to raise approximately $4.9 million in its first year (2012). In exchange for supporting the millage, residents and school groups from Oakland County would be allowed to visit the DIA anytime without a general admission fee.

Members of the art authority, who have been appointed by Oakland County commissioners and the county executive, are tasked with ensuring the DIA uses the millage revenue only for museum operations. The DIA is required to submit an annual audit for this body’s review.

Aug. 7 ballot language:

The Oakland County Art Institute Authority was established pursuant to Public Act 296 of 2010 and formed 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 the 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 $ 4,877,863.36 in 2012.

For more on the DIA Millage:

SMART Millage

What it is:

If approved, this proposal would levy .59 mills on Oakland County taxpayers in 23 "opt in" communities to provide regular bus service. In Farmington and Farmington Hills, SMART also offers a dial-a-ride service that brings residents to either a destination or to a regular route bus. 

Locally, SMART operates five regular routes on Woodward, Old Woodward and Maple. Routes include: Greenfield-Southfield line (415/420), Woodward Limited (445/475), Woodward Local (450/460), Auburn Hills Limited (465) and Fifteen Mile Crosstown (780).

Cost: 

At .59 mills, a taxpayer owning a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay $59 per year. Across the SMART service area, the millage is expected to generate $16 million. 

Aug. 7 ballot language:

"If approved, this proposal will renew the .59 mills levied by the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority in 2010, for the years 2010 and 2011, and will allow continued support to the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) for a public transportation system serving the elderly, disabled and general population of Oakland County.

"As a renewal of the mills, which expired with the 2011 tax levy, shall the limitation on the amount of taxes imposed on taxable property in the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority area be renewed at .59 mills (59 cents per $1,000 of taxable value) for two (2) years, 2012 and 2013 inclusive, for the purpose of providing funds for the support of a public transportation system serving the elderly, disabled and general population of Oakland County? It is estimated that .59 mills would raise approximately $16 million when levied in 2012."

Review sample ballots on the Michigan Secretary of State website.

Easydude August 02, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Since our current govenor has taken office and added an additionial 1 billion dollars to our state buget. Votes had to make choices: millage increases for both school and public services. Now, the DIA is asking for help. Lets have winter hours and close the DIA at 3p.m. during from October 15th to March 15th - - except on weekends, a mandatory fee of $3 to enter rather than a suggested donation and sell a piece of art that has not been on display for over five years.
Buddyb August 08, 2012 at 09:17 AM
If anyone knows where I can obtain a truthful copy of the "Smart" (dumb) Millage let me know? I sure would like to know the % of estimated 16 million dollars this millage will generate that will go to the elderly and people with disabilities..... in the first year alone!!!!! I'm the first to say we have an obligation to take car of the elderly and disadvantage but the general public now???? WTF seriously! Somehow this ballot got on and somehow it passed by an overwhelming majority?? I guess the people that I talked to that said this was ridiculous didn't vote? It's ironic that in a bad economy that this passed by a huge margin in Ferndale, but the Police millage barely passed a year ago? I guess transportation over safety makes sense to people which makes no sense to me?? I guess I have to give credit to the FEW people who actually came out and voted when something mattered to them because they made their voice heard and counted. Great between this and the DIA now my taxes went up almost 100.00 bucks a year. As if 2700 hundred wasn't enough to pay a year for a house in Ferndale, now its 2800 hundred! I'll end this soap box rant by saying that I hope i can eat my words and the vast majority of the millions of dollars collected will go towards the transportation of the elderly and disabled!!

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