Reader: St. Louis Zoo does not need any tax hike

Letters+to+the+editor

Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Proposition Z is the one-eighth-cent sales-tax increase for the St. Louis Zoo that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot in St. Louis County only.

The zoo mainly wants the increase to operate a huge breeding farm it plans to build in north county.

The proposal is completely unworthy of support. Consider the following:

The zoo already has an abundance of funding. It gets $22.6 million a year from a property tax in St. Louis and St. Louis County — nearly $100 million every four years. A fundraising campaign that just concluded a few years ago raised $132 million. The St. Louis Zoo Association, which is connected to the zoo, has $96.4 million in assets.

Proposition Z would raise about $21.7 million of additional tax revenue for the zoo from county taxpayers. About 84 percent of the $22.6 million currently going to the zoo — $19 million — comes from county taxpayers. If the tax hike is approved, it would mean county taxpayers would be giving $40.7 million to the zoo every year while city taxpayers give only $3.6 million.

Since 2004 the zoo has spent tens of millions of dollars on conservation efforts around the world. The funds would be better spent on its St. Louis facilities.

If the St. Louis Zoo wants additional revenue it should charge admission, the same as almost every zoo in the country. Reasonable admission charges would raise many millions of dollars every year. It makes no sense for residents outside St. Louis and St. Louis County to get in for free, though there would still be no charge for city and county residents.

Voters would be wise to vote “no” on Proposition Z.

Tom Sullivan
University City