The Allen County Council is considering using income tax dollars to help the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo pay for a new project.
Council President Paul Moss has asked that the county give $500,000 the county uses for economic development efforts to the African Journey project that is transforming the zoo’s 30-year-old African Veldt.
This is a bad idea. The first thing every politician says about our zoo is that it is, and always has been, privately funded. This is a major fundraising point for the zoo as well. How many people will rethink donating money to the zoo if they realize their tax dollars are already going to support it? Even zoo director Jim Anderson admits as much:
He acknowledged, however, that accepting public money could prompt some donors to consider no longer supporting the zoo.
Of course setting this precedent means the county (and city) will begin to subsidize the zoo more and more. The Council knows this is a concern so Moss is trying to convince us that won't happen:
Moss said the money would be a one-time expense aimed at the construction project and that the county would not begin to supplement the zoo’s operating budget.
Does anyone actually believe that?