Three top executives at the Detroit Institute of Arts could get compensation packages worth more than half a million dollars. With taxpayer dollars from Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties going to the museum, not everyone is happy about it - and Oakland County is trying to stop it.
It was just a few years ago the DIA claimed it was broke. Now it is looking at forking out more than $600,000 in compensation packages for three museum leaders, which includes raises, bonuses and even paying off the former director's house note.
That's why Oakland County commissioners John Scott and Shelley Goodman Taub are introducing two separate resolutions to block what they call excessive compensation packages which lack transparency and accountability. It was discussed at the Oakland County Art Institute Authority in Pontiac.
"I was not a happy camper I was furious (asking) where did this come from," Scott said. "I think our appointees to the authority - even though they don't have to answer to us - should be telling us what's going on."
"I think in all the excitement of putting together the grand bargain for Detroit, there were some things left out," Taub said. "Some unintended consequences and this was one of them."
It was the taxpayers from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, who came to the rescue of the Detroit museum a few years ago, supporting a millage that raises $23 million to help run the DIA.
We're told most of the funds for the compensation packages would come from private donors, but $49,000 of it from public dollars.
"I would like to know is this how they operated before 2012, when they came to the three counties and asked for additional money," asked Leann O'Connor during the meeting's public comment. "If the answer is yes, then shame on them for crying poor."
"It's a little more complicated than what's been portrayed so far," said Michael Gingell, chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
Gingell says he and other commissioners may not like it but when it comes to private donations, their hands are tied.
"While we can suggest things, passing resolutions to direct a member of the Oakland Arts Authority is a slippery slope for us," he said. "There not a whole lot we can do at this time."
The resolutions, to be addressed next month, may not be able to alter the power of the DIA leaders the commissioners say but they could help change their minds.
"It doesn't sit well when you are using hard-earned money of tax payers," Taub said. "It also doesn't sit well, when people gave up a lot of their pensions."
The only thing the counties can fight is using tax payer dollars for the raises.
FOX 2 spoke to Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel who says he plans to fight it. He said his county also knew nothing about it and is shocked, finding what the DIA is proposing unacceptable.