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New Law Protects Zoo, Museum Millage Money

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A tri-county millage to help fund the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts will now have all of its revenue earmarked for those two institutions.

Some communities in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties were diverting part of the voter-approved tax to other projects. The new laws prohibit tax incrementing authorities from capturing regional property taxes meant to subsidize the zoo and art museum.

Republican state Rep. Eileen Kowall of Oakland County's White Lake Township was the lead sponsor of the legislation, which came  in response to a lawsuit filed by several Wayne County communities.

"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.

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.

"Voters approved millages to support these cultural icons, and these bills guarantee that the voice of the voters in southeast Michigan is not only heard, but followed," Lt. Governor Brian Calley said, in a statement.

Calley who is serving as acting governor while Gov. Rick Snyder continues his trade mission to Israel. Article V, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.

CATCH UP:  Wayne County Communities Sue Over Tax Money

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