Oakland County is the first to take action to protect its taxpayers from the potential fallout of the City of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. The Oakland County Art Institute Authority passed a resolution unanimously today that would terminate its obligation to continue funding the Detroit Institute of Arts if the city were to sell any of its collection for any purpose other than to purchase more art. In addition, the Authority will end the levy if the city were to impose leasing obligations on the DIA that divert millage dollars to the city.
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson applauded the Authority for protecting Oakland County taxpayers.
“This resolution sends a strong message that we shall protect Oakland County taxpayers from any decision that would use the DIA’s millage or assets to satisfy Detroit’s creditors,” Patterson said. “It’s also a shot heard around the world that we support keeping the DIA’s world-class art collection intact.”
The Authority, which levies .2 mills to support the DIA, adopted a services agreement with the museum in June of 2012 that is tied to the DIA’s Dec. 12, 1997 operating agreement with the City of Detroit, the titled owner of the art collection. That 1997 operating agreement specifically mandates that any funds received from the sale of art in the collection shall be used solely to purchase other works of art for the city’s collection. It also requires that all revenues derived from the museum’s operation and its related activities shall only benefit the museum.
The Authority’s 2012 operating agreement with the DIA says any breach of the 1997 operating agreement will terminate the Authority’s obligation to levy the millage. A $200,000 home in Oakland County pays $20 a year to support the DIA. In total, Oakland County taxpayers send about $9.8 million a year to the DIA.
Joining Patterson in putting the City of Detroit on notice with regard to the DIA is the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. On Aug. 14, the board passed a resolution that encourages the Authority to cancel its existing contract with the DIA, if the existing art collection is impacted by Detroit’s bankruptcy process.
The Authority members are Chair Thomas Guastello, president of Center Management in Birmingham and a practicing attorney; Jennifer Fischer, a former member of the DIA Board of Directors; attorney Alan Ackerman of Bloomfield Hills; CPA Barbara Dobb of Commerce Township; Dr. David L. Roberson, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and a resident of West Bloomfield.
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