City Administrator Todd Drysdale presented a request to City Council on Monday to approve a retainer fee agreement regarding a zoo millage litigation.
Drysdale explained to council members 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.