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Lawmakers Getting Involved In Detroit Zoo, DIA Tax Dispute

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Photo Credit: detroitzoo.org

Photo Credit: detroitzoo.org

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Michigan lawmakers are getting involved in a dispute over whether communities can hold back millage money that voters approved for the Detroit Zoo and Detroit Institute of Arts.

Bills being introduced this week aim to ensure communities send the money to the zoo and museum. Republican state Rep. Eileen Kowall of Oakland County’s White Lake Township is the lead sponsor. The bills would affect tax increment financing set up to withhold or capture some tax revenue. The money often is used for local projects.

The bills are in response to a lawsuit filed by several Wayne County communities over whether they can hold back millage money instead of forwarding the money directly to the intended source — the zoo and the DIA.

“If the people in our communities support a local millage, every last penny collected should be used for the intended purpose,” Kowall said in a statement.

If the bills pass, they could trigger a settlement of the lawsuit, which scheduled to be tried in Wayne County Circuit Court this spring.

“The will of the voters must be protected and the zoo, the DIA, and any other approved millage recipient should get the dollars the voters intended to send to them,” Kowall said.

Since 2008, more than 30 communities in Wayne County have held back nearly $800,000 in money collected for the zoo. Voters that year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties passed the zoo tax. The museum millage was approved in November.

MORE: Wayne County Communities Sue Over Tax Money

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