GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (4/23/2018) - Voters in Genesee County will be asked to approve a tax increase in August that would help fund a variety of arts and cultural institutions.
The Genesee County Board of Commissioners approved placing the measure on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot, seeking a 0.96-mill tax increase for 10 years
Most of the funding would go toward facilities on the Flint Cultural Campus, including the Sloan Museum, the Longway Planetarium, The Whiting Auditorium, the Flint Institute of Arts, the Flint School of Performing Arts, the Flint Symphony Orchestra, the Flint Youth Theatre, the Flint Institute of Music, the Capitol Theatre, the Floyd J. McCree Theatre & Fine Arts Centre and the Berston Field House.
“This is an important step in continuing the excellence and vitality of our arts programs all around Genesee County," said Randall Thompson, president of Citizens for a Better Genesee County. "Our area is more than just the bad news of the water crisis or how we were depicted in Netflix's FlintTown. We are in the midst of rebuilding and rebranding our community."
He believes approval of the millage would lead to better jobs and increase property values.
"This is just another step in the direction of making people understand that Genesee County is a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Thompson said.
The tax would cost about $48 annually for the owner of a home with a taxable value of $50,000.
“At less than 1 mills annually, the passage of this millage would allow Genesee County families the ability to recoup the cost of the millage many times over," Thompson said. "At roughly $10 admission to one of the institutions, a family of four would nearly recoup their cost in one visit."
The arts and cultural facilities also would be available for more school field trips and gatherings.
"Quite simply, the passage of this millage would increase access to some of our most long-standing and treasured arts education and cultural institutions," Thompson said. "Free admission or discounted rates can serve as a tangible benefit to living in Genesee County, as this would be a benefit solely granted to Genesee County residents.”
If approved, all of the institutions receiving tax funding would offer free or significantly reduced admission fees for Genesee County residents.
There would also be $500,000 in annual grants available to arts and cultural programs around Genesee County. The Greater Flint Arts Council would administer the program.
The arts council would establish peer panels to decide how the millage funding would be dispersed, so people with experience in Genesee County arts programs will make those decisions without input from government officials.