Residents of St. Louis County, Missouri will decide in November whether or not to approve a tax increase for the benefit of the St. Louis Zoo. The proposed sales tax would fund both cosmetic and functional upgrades to the zoo. There are also plans to construct a new breeding facility and talks of an adventure park in the northern portion of the county.
One complication seen by individuals close to the matter is that voters in St. Louis County will need to agree to impose an additional sales tax on themselves while surrounding areas are required to contribute nothing to the St. Louis Zoo. The one-eighth of one cent sales tax is expected to generate about $20 million in revenue for the county of St. Louis.
Jeffrey Bonner, The zoo's president and chief executive officer, explains that many of the species on display at the St. Louis Zoo are on the critically endangered list. Bonner says that the sales tax increase is needed to provide the zoo with tools to preserve these animals for future generations to view.
Bonner says that visitors to the new facility will pay a charge for admission. He said that residents of counties that adopt a sales tax to provide funding to the St. Louis Zoo will not be required to pay this admission charge.
Individuals that oppose the increase in sales tax argue that residents of both the city and county of St. Louis already provide financial support to the zoo through property taxes. The surrounding counties of Jefferson, Franklin, and St. Charles are not required to contribute revenue from property or sales tax to the St. Louis Zoo.A councilman for St. Louis County, Mark Harder, expects the fact that only residents of St. Louis County are being asked to bear the burden of financing zoo upgrades will affect how voters approach the matter on the November ballot.