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Trenton Won't Take Part in Zoo Millage Lawsuit

Wyandotte, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Romulus and Brownstown are taking part in a zoo millage litigation.

Trenton officials will not take part in a zoo millage litigation, which includes a lawsuit supported by nearby community Wyandotte.

Trenton City Adminstrator Jim Wagner said the City of Trenton does not capture the millages for the Detroit Zoo or the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"It's an insignificant amount," Wagner said. "So, we decided not to capture it."

Wagner said he was unsure when the decision to not capture the millage was made, but that it was made before he was hired as city administrator in January 2012.

In Wyandotte, council memebers voted in December 2012 to approve a retainer fee agreement regarding the zoo millage litigation.

City Administrator Todd Drysdale explained to Wyandotte council members in December 2012 that the Wayne County Treasurer's Office informed the city that it will not be able to capture eligible tax increment revenues from millages for the Zoological Authority and Detroit Institute of Arts.

"We have captured the Zoo Millage in the prior two years and the law appears to support our case that we should continue to capture that millage and any other millage passed by voters," Drysdale said.

"The Zoo Millage is roughly around $18,000 that would go to our DDA and our TIFA and when you add in the new Detroit Institute of Art Millage, that would double that amount. So, we're really talking close to $50,000 we would lose annually to use in our tax increment districts if this interpretation of the law is allowed to go unchallenged," he added.

There are 19 Wayne County communities with tax increment financing (TIF) entities that capture the Zoo Millage. 

Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Romulus and Brownstown are also taking part in the lawsuit, according to Drysdale.

"Our plans go out to 2030 or 2032 so if we lost $50,000 until then, it's a significant amount of money we should protect," Drysdale said.

Patricia Mills Janeway, communications director at the Detroit Zoo, said they are working with their legal counsel as well.

"We’re in ongoing dialogue with the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, the State Attorney General and our legal counsel, and have been pushing hard to get the DDAs to follow the legal opinions of the AG and others. Most are in compliance," Janeway said.

Council voted unamiously to approve the $2,500 retainer fee to Monaghan, P.C. Attorneys and Counselors.

Further legal action on behalf of the city was not authoritized. Drysdale and council members agreed that no steps would be taken without approval from the council.

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sine-of-the-times January 23, 2013 at 01:55 AM
I don't understand, Drysdale says its significan t money, yet Wagner doesn;t think so? And Trenton council voted to give a non-union contract v. a union contract that would cost just a couple hundred dollars more because they "couldn't afford it"?? Can you please elaborate or break this down more...
JC January 23, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I think most voters were bamboozled over the Zoo and the Art milliages. No one disclosed the fact that they were going to be split up among Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County communities with only a portion going to the Zoo and the DIA. If we knew that would we have voted to approve it? Politics as usual.
TJ January 23, 2013 at 03:59 PM
I agree. Our property taxes are not the place for the zoo, DIA, or any other place to be raising funds. If you can't cover your costs with admission and donations, you need to close your doors or start selling baked goods. People, stop voting for these scammers and their money grabs!

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