etroit — A resident is suing two Detroit taxing authorities alleging they are illegally using tax revenues intended for the city’s public school students to finance construction of the Little Caesars Arena and a new headquarters for the Detroit Pistons.
D. Etta Wilcoxon alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court that the Detroit Downtown Development Authority and the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority have violated her right to vote by attempting to use tax revenue from an 18-mill DPS levy “for a different purpose” without first obtaining voter approval from Wilcoxon and the other registered voters.
The grab violates Michigan’s General Property Tax Act, the lawsuit alleges.
Robert Davis, a Highland Park resident and civil activist, is also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, and alleges the two taxing authorities have violated his rights by attempting to use tax revenue generated from a Wayne County parks millage for the arena and headquarters.
Both Wilcoxon and Davis are asking a judge to block the DDA and DBRA from individually and collectively using or capturing any tax revenue without first obtaining approval from registered voters of Detroit and Wayne County.
Bob Rossbach of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a spokesman for both the DDA and DBRA, said Thursday neither agency had been served with the lawsuit.
“That said, DEGC, acting as professional staff to the DDA and DBRA generally does not comment on pending litigation. If, in fact a lawsuit has been filed, any response to it will be made directly in the court in which the lawsuit is filed,” he said
Detroit voters approved a 2012 millage renewal and restoration of the 18-mills.
In 2016, Wayne County voters approved the continuation of the Wayne County parks millage, dedicated to finance improvements to certain parks located within 43 communities in Wayne County.
Last week, city leaders voiced concerns about the impact tax captures would have on local entities, such as the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Detroit Public Library and others. Leaders worried they would lose money as part of tax deals for the arena and Pistons facility.