DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Five Macomb County residents have filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Institute of Arts over the museum’s vow not to charge admission fees to area residents after voters approved a special millage in August.

Leaders of the cultural institution said at the time that the 10-year millage passed by voters in the tri-county area would provide financial stability and permit it to offer free admission to residents of the three counties.

Residents in Wayne and Oakland counties overwhelmingly supported the proposal which  is expected to raise $20 million to $23 million for the museum, with about $11 million of that coming from Oakland. The 10-year millage narrowly passed in Macomb county where the ‘yes’ votes outnumbered the ‘no’ votes by a margin of only about 300.

The tax works out to about $20 per year on a house worth $200,000.

The DIA is charging a fee for admission to its current “Faberge: The Rise and Fall” special exhibition. Admission to the museum itself has traditionally be separate from an additional special exhibit fee.

The five plaintiffs filed suit in Macomb County Circuit Court, saying the museum violated its contractual promise to provide “unlimited, free museum admission.”

DIA spokeswoman Pamela Marcil says museum officials hadn’t yet seen the complaint Thursday.

Museum Director Graham Beal drew a bit of criticism last summer from some who claimed the millage was unnecessary and disputed some of the information the DIA used to support the tax increase.  There was some debate as to wherever or not the museum would be forced to close without the tax, as was claimed in pro-millage media spots.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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