Shelby-Utica Rep Backs Tri-County Effort to Protect DIA, Zoo Millages
State Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) has joined a bipartisan coalition to introduce legislation that prevents diversion of voter-approved millages to other purposes.
A package of legislation aimed at protecting voter-approved millages for the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been introduced in Lansing by a group of Democrats and Republicans from the tri-county area.
A number of communities, such as Wyandotte, Dearborn, Northville, and Plymouth Township, have redirected revenue raised from the zoo and DIA millages to support specific development districts within their city limits.
“We are trying to restore the intent of voters,” said State Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak). Townsend is joined by Reps. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica), Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford), Harold Haugh (D-Roseville), Gail Haines (R-Waterford), Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake) and Speaker Pro Tempore John Walsh (R-Livonia).
While sympathetic to plight of local municipalities, Townsend said voters did not anticipate communities would divert funds to pay for sidewalks and streetlights that have nothing to do with zoo and DIA.
The bills introduced are meant to "eliminate any ambiguity" and clarify voters earmarked the taxes for a specific purpose, he added.
“Frankly, the original legislation should have been clearer.”
Farrington, a Republican, represents Utica and parts of Shelby Township and Sterling Heights in House District 30.
The arts millage won support among Utica voters 348-284 in August 2012, but failed in Shelby Township 6,387-6,975. However, Macomb County ultimately passed the millage by 1 percent of the overall vote.