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Zoo likely to ask Sedgwick County for more money

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 8:07 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, July 15, 2013, at 12:14 a.m.

Cuts to the Sedgwick County Zoo’s budget have left no county funds available for maintaining exhibits or making improvements to the state’s No. 1 family tourist attraction.

The zoo likely will ask for more money from the county for next year.

But in a budget hearing Thursday, Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said those numbers still were being worked out.

The zoo’s operating budget this year is $11,358,107.

The Sedgwick County Zoological Society is paying 56 percent – or $6,399,922 – of the zoo’s operating budget this year from admissions, memberships, sales of food and gift shop items, donations, grants and other sources of revenue, and the county is paying 44 percent, or $4,958,185. The county pays most employees’ salaries. The zoological society pays the tab for food, supplies, utilities and other expenses.

The county reduced the zoo’s budget by 6.6 percent in 2012 and 5 percent this year for a cumulative total of about $880,500, zoo director Mark Reed said in an earlier Eagle story.

Reed said in a March story that the zoo was on a “nonsustainable track” for the long term.

Holt’s report Thursday said the zoo generates about $43 million a year for the community.

Commissioners appear to agree that the zoo is a top priority for the county.

County Manager William Buchanan will present his recommended budget to commissioners at their regular meeting at 9 a.m. July 10. Public hearings are scheduled for 9 a.m. July 17 and 31.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on a budget at their Aug. 7 meeting, which starts at 9 a.m.

All meetings are open to the public and take place in the commission’s chambers on the third floor of the courthouse, 525 N. Main.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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