On March 10, during the Presidential Primary, there is also a millage renewal of 0.2 mils to support the DIA for another 10 years from 2022 to 2031.
In 2012, the original millage passed in Oakland County with 64% support. Much of the southern communities supported the effort while here in the northeast (District 3) it was voted down by 55% of the taxpayers. In 2012, prior to being elected to the Board of Commissioners, I was not in favor of using taxpayer money to support the DIA. After County wide acceptance, the DIA had a rough start, with a few questionable decisions related to wage increases and bonuses to staff members.
Many communities were outraged and pushed back to correct this matter, and quickly. The DIA board members listened and began measures to correct the situation, and eventually lead to a change at the upper levels of the DIA. The changes also included a change in their business plan and strategy, by increasing their community outreach programs. I am sure many of you have seen the road shows in your communities, with artwork in your local libraries, schools, in your downtowns, and even on some of the trails.
This was all in addition to the educational programs which includes busing of students and seniors to the DIA on a regular basis. In my opinion the DIA has done a great job in reaching out to the communities versus expecting everyone to come to them. There were also many comments/promises made with the 2012 millage, such as we will not seek a millage renewal, which was based on the original 20-year request (which was reduced to 10yr after multiple Counties objected) and the previous business plan of limited community outreach.
So here we are, 8 years later, with the DIA asking for a 10-year extension on the March ballot. One would ask why March? Great question. I do not support such a vote to be outside a regular election cycle for any reason, I prefer such a matter to be either on the August or November ballot. Either way, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and the other Counties have supported placing this matter on the March ballot.
As March 10 nears, please remind your friends, your family, and anyone that will listen that there is more on the ballot and to make it a priority to get out and vote. After witnessing the DIA actions over the years, I personally believe the DIA has taken many good steps forward, but will it be enough to flip the vote in northern Oakland County?
Michael Spisz, Oxford Township
Oakland County Commissioner – District #3