Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A way for a metropolitan area to support arts institutions based in the center city

It will be a cold day in hell before most metropolitan areas are willing to merge the taxation streams into one funding stream that supports municipalities throughout a region, as Myron Orfield suggests in the book Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability.

On the other hand, there are more examples of center cities merging with the adjoining county for the provision of a significant number of services, and the tax revenue stream, such as in Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana, Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee, or Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky.

(And there are a number of examples of merged county-cities, such as San Francisco and Philadelphia, although this happened, at least for Philadelphia, more than 100 years ago.)

The Detroit Free Press has a story, "DSO could benefit from plan similar to DIA, zoo plan," about how there is a proposal to create a couple of regional taxes in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties in Michigan, to support the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is an institution based in the center city, but providing services to the entire region, and the Detroit Zoo (although the Zoo is located in Oakland County but owned by the city), and how a local representative, Rep. Vicki Barnett of Farmington/Farmington Hills is suggesting that this concept be extended, and also provide support for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which faces significant budgetary problems and a strike by its musicians as a result of proposed changes in compensation and work requirements.

From the article:

Democrat Rep. Vicki Barnett said she hopes to muster support to add the DSO to a bill that would allow voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to vote for a tax of up to 0.2 mills to help pay for the Detroit Institute of Arts.

That bill is before the House for final approval next week. Another bill would allow the tri-county voters to double the 0.1-mill tax for the Detroit Zoo they approved in 2008.

This is a good effort, but instead of creating a bunch of separate taxes, how about supporting cultural institutions more systematically, just as how the Regional Asset District was created in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to support cultural and civic institutions, primarily those located in Pittsburgh, which also serve regional audiences, but also to support institutions located in the county, not just the center city. (This helps strengthen support from jurisdictions other than the center city.) From the RAD website:

Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) supports and finances regional assets in the areas of libraries, parks, cultural, sports and civic facilities and programs

In the Detroit area, there is a multi-jurisdictional parks district covering five counties, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan (Parks) Authority, which has functioned on a similar basis for 70 years, although this authority does not support all parks in the region, only certain designated parks under its purview and control. The authority was set up by the State.

And there are many examples of these kinds of taxing and/or operating districts across the U.S., from the Chicago Park District, which only receives monies from the City of Chicago, but which supports museums and facilities other than parks, to transit authorities.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home