New Albany News

Franklin County Issue 6

Zoo seeks permanent 1.25-mill property tax May 6

By

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is asking Franklin County voters to approve a permanent 1.25-mill levy on the ballot Tuesday, May 6.

The levy, also known as Issue 6, would raise the money necessary to ensure the zoo remains a top attraction for central Ohio, zoo officials maintain.

The additional revenue would be used to revamp portions of the park and build new amenities, such as a trolley system and animal-care facility.

"Franklin County is the fastest-growing county in the state of Ohio and the county with the fastest-growing need for recreation and education opportunities," said John Kulewicz, co-chairman of the zoo levy committee.

Among the plans is the Downtown Adventure -- a 50,000-square-foot facility on the Scioto Peninsula that is estimated to cost between $50 million and $65 million. It is projected to open in 2017.

The permanent levy, which would raise $32.7 million annually, would cost homeowners about $44 annually per $100,000 in assessed property value, whereas an existing levy costs that same homeowner $21 a year per $100,000 in assessed value. The current 0.75-mill levy doesn't expire until the end of next year.

The zoo is surrounded by Delaware County, but technically is located in the city of Columbus and Franklin County because of lease agreement forged more than 40 years ago.

Opponents of the levy argue the proposal was rushed onto the ballot without due deliberation by the public.

They also contend it's too expensive and that Columbus doesn't need a downtown zoo.

"Voters have an opportunity to decide if they want to permanently double their tax to pay for a downtown zoo," said Dan McCormick, an organizer of Citizens for Responsible Taxation, a group opposing the levy.

"With all of the needs in the community, permanently doubling our tax for what many classify as a 'want' doesn't fit well with the coalition of voters that we brought together."

Comments