• As millage vote looms, lawmaker and DIA spar over finances

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    A Republican state legislator on Wednesday accused the Detroit Institute of Arts of lying in its TV ads that suggest the museum would be forced to close if a tri-county millage to fund the DIA fails at the polls Aug. 7.

    DIA leaders vehemently denied that charge and said state Rep. Tom McMillin was seriously misrepresenting the museum’s financial position.

    McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, issued a news release that said the museum’s audited financial statements from June 30, 2011, show it has about $100 million in unrestricted dollars available for use.

    “The DIA has plenty of money in the bank to keep their doors open for many, many years to come,” said McMillin, who is a certified public accountant.

    DIA leadership disagreed strongly with his analysis. “Nonprofit accounting is very complicated, even for someone who is a CPA,” said Annmarie Erickson, executive vice president for the DIA.

    “While it may look simple on a financial statement, when you begin to dig into it, it gets much more complicated, and the prescription he’s recommending for us, which is spending the principal of our operating endowment, is the worst possible thing we could do — it starts the clock ticking on the closure of the institution.”

    The DIA is seeking a property tax equivalent of $15 annually on a home worth $150,000 in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. If passed in all three counties, the millage would funnel as much as $23 million annually for 10 years to the DIA.

    The money would be used to cope with chronic annual operating gaps of $12 million or more dating back about 20 years.

    Read more in the Detroit Free Press

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