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Vote NO on DIA tax

August 01, 2012 - It's simply not the job of taxpayers to support art museums – end of story.

That's why we're urging everyone reading this to vote NO on the proposed 10-year, 0.2 mill tax to help support the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

We believe taxes should be reserved for public necessities such as roads, police and fire services, water and sewage systems, and schools, not luxuries like art museums. Funding the DIA is the job of private donors and museum patrons.

Funding the DIA is – and should remain– strictly a matter of individual choice. Contributions spring from free will and the spirit of generosity. Taxes are a form of coercion backed up by the threat of property loss and jail time.

Even if we didn't oppose the DIA tax on principle, we'd still fight it based on the fact that the museum director/president/CEO's total annual compensation is in excess of $400,000 per year – more than the President of the United States' salary.

That's just ridiculous.

There's been some confusion about the DIA director's compensation given some media outlets have only reported his base salary, which doesn't tell the whole story.

Based on the Form 990 the DIA filed with the Internal Revenue Service for the fiscal year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, the director received a base salary of $351,137, plus a $35,000 bonus and $40,562 in nontaxable benefits. That makes for a grand total of $426,699.

Based on the Form 990 the DIA filed for July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, the director was paid a base salary of $327,205, plus a $33,000 bonus, plus $51,868 in what was listed as "other reportable compensation," plus $31,360 in nontaxable benefits, for a grand total of $443,433.

Tough times haven't hurt the director.

If the DIA is truly so valuable and such a worthwhile cause, then let its ardent supporters find other ways to finance it without forcing the taxpayers to do it.

Taxing people is the lazy, unimaginative way to raise money.

How about raising the price of admission? The DIA charges $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for kids ages 6-17.

In comparison, the Henry Ford Museum charges $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12.50 for kids ages 5-12.

It seems to us like the DIA is charging the people who actually go there and enjoy it far too little for the privilege.

The taxpayers shouldn't be asked – or expected – to make up for the museum's undercharging or lost revenues.

Bottom-line, it's just wrong to make everyone pay for something that's really only utilized and appreciated by a minority of people.

We urge Oxford and Addison residents to vote NO on the DIA tax.

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