News Story

Michigan House OKs bill creating museum tax authority

If enacted, the plan could cost Oakland County taxpayers $167M over 10 years

Some Michiganders might pay more in property taxes for museums they don’t necessarily visit, under a new bill passed by the Michigan House to allow counties to create a history museum authority to levy new property taxes to fund history museums in Detroit.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 4177 on a vote of 56-53. The bill, called the History Museum Authorities Act, targets Oakland and Wayne counties. It would let the counties establish an authority that could levy a property tax of up to 0.2 mills for up to 10 years with voter approval.

The authority could then give taxpayer money to county history museums or history museums in the city of Detroit.

Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, sponsored the bill. It would mirror the millage levied on residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties that funds the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Carter said the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History needs the funding, as does the Detroit Historical Society, which operates the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

“We’ve heard testimony from leadership of both organizations in committee about the underfunding and large amounts of deferred maintenance for their museums,” Carter said in a statement. “These cultural resources in our community deserve sustainable funding support. With this legislation, residents can enjoy the perks and access to the museums.”

The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency didn’t estimate a possible cost to the two counties.

The House Republican Caucus ran projections for Oakland and Wayne counties, assuming a 0.2 mill levy from 2024 to 2033 and a 2% growth each year of taxable property values.

The projection found the plan would cost Oakland County residents roughly $167 million and Wayne County residents $114 million over a decade.

State Rep Mike Harris, R-Waterford, opposed the legislation.

“Property taxes should support essential community services, but this proposal could tax Oakland County homeowners to subsidize museums in Detroit that they may not ever visit,” Harris said in a statement. “Taxpayers in our county are already subsidizing an art museum and metro-area buses regardless of whether we use them. People can voluntarily support historical education by paying museum admission or making donations.”

HB 4177 proceeded to the Senate for consideration, where it was referred to the Committee on Finance, Insurance, and Consumer Protection.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.