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Hamilton County Commissioners Vote Unanimously to Place Cincinnati Zoo Levy on November Ballot

Friends of the Cincinnati Zoo Launch Campaign Website

CINCINNATI, OH (September 10, 2013) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced today that, after receiving the unanimous support of the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners, the Zoo Tax Levy has officially been accepted and placed on the November 5, 2013 ballot for a renewal without a tax increase.  The levy (officially Issue #2) would provide property tax support for the Zoo for five years (2014-2018) and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $10 per year. View Levy Fact Sheet (pdf)

As good stewards of the taxpayer dollars, the Zoo levy is currently only 20% of the Zoo’s annual budget, down from 41% in 1993.  Levy funds can be used only for feeding and caring for Zoo animals, for horticulture needs, and building and maintenance repairs.   Issue #2 (the Zoo renewal levy) has been officially endorsed thus far by the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce and the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

“The tax levy is critical to our success,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.   “Because of our 30-year partnership with Hamilton County, we have been able to help keep the Zoo affordable for everyone.  We are very excited for the opportunity to once again stand before the voters of Hamilton County and share the wonderful story of the Cincinnati Zoo and how it makes Hamilton County a better place to live.”

As a center of excellence in its field, the Cincinnati Zoo is one of the premier recreational and cultural attractions in the region, exceeding 1.4 million visitors annually and 55,000 membership families.  It’s an invaluable educational asset with over 450,000 people participating in educational programs, including 120,000 pre-school and school-aged children engaged through field trips, camps, overnights and family programs.  The Zoo is an award-winning partner in community redevelopment economic growth, working with diverse neighborhood organizations and community leaders.  It’s a conservation and sustainability champion earning the title of Greenest Zoo in America.

The levy approved by the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners would generate, if approved by Hamilton County voters, approximately $6.7 million annually for the next five years.  The levy amount was recommended by the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee after a thorough review of the Zoo’s request to be placed on the ballot.

A study by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center found that the Cincinnati Zoo provides a total economic impact of $143 million on the Greater Cincinnati region, which is nearly 3.9 times the Zoo’s spending. In 2012 over 20% of Zoo visitors came from outside the metro region, pumping money back into the local economy.  The report also showed the Zoo is an essential source of jobs and earnings for local workers, generating over 1,700 jobs with $51.7 million in household earnings and benefits.  

“If someone doesn’t know why they should support the Zoo, I invite them to come over and spend a day here learning about what we do and experiencing all that we have to offer,” said Maynard. “We earn our stripes each and every day.”

The Cincinnati Zoo consistently remains one of the best zoos in the country and a driver for the local economy. For more information regarding the 2013 Zoo Levy Campaign, please visit www.friendsofthecincinnatizoo.org.

Authorized by Friends of the Zoo, W. Stuart Dornette, Treasurer