Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Metro 26-96: $125M (0.009%) Zoo Improvements

MultCo Elections:

COST: $0.09 property tax per $1,000 assessed value per year = 0.009%

Shall Zoo protect animal health and safety; conserve, recycle water; issue $125 million in general obligation bonds; require independent audits? If the bonds are approved, they will be payable from taxes on property or property ownership that are not subject to the limits of Sections 11 and 11b, Article XI of the Oregon Constitution.?

[_] Yes
The Oregonian: "A cautious 'yes'."
Portland Mercury
The Skanner

From arguments in favor (pdf):
• OR Humane Society
• fmr Gov John Kitzhaber
from supporters:
• Audubon Society of Portland
• OR League of Conservation Voters
• Portland Japanese Garden
• Sierra Club
• Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder
• Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette
• Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington
• Metro Councilor Rod Park
• MultCo Comm.-elect Deborah Kafoury
• Portland Mayor Tom Potter
• Portland City Comm. Randy Leonard
• Portland City Comm. Dan Saltzman
• Oregon Zoo Polar Bears Intnt'l & Senior Keeper Amy Cutting
• Oregon Zoo Vet Mitch Finnegan
• Oregon Zoo Vet Lisa Harrenstein
• Oregon Zoo Vet 1958-1973 Matthew Maberry
• Oregon Zoo Vet Tech Margot Monti
• Oregon Zoo Senior Elephant Keeper Bob Lee
• Oregon Zoo Elephant Keeper Jeb Barsh
• Oregon Zoo Elephant Keeper Dimas Dominguez
• Oregon Zoo Elephant Keeper Jeremy Kiby
• Oregon Zoo Senior Primate Keeper Dave Thomas
• Oregon Zoo Primate Keeper Asaba Mukobi
• AZA Elephant Species Survival Prog. Chair Mike Keele
• Polar Bears International Pres. Robert Buchanan
• Polar Bear Expert David Sheperdson
• Elephant Expert Ursula Buhert
• Beaverton Mayor-Elect Denny Doyle
• Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake
[X] No "No":
Portland Tribune

Victoria Taft

From arguments in opposition (pdf):
• Jane Frances Bicquette: "...prolonging woefully inadequate conditions..."
• Oregon Zoo Keeper Phil Prewett
• In Defense of Animals

MY FIRST IMPRESSION: I would like to support the zoo, but $125M for what is essentially a popular recreational attraction pales in comparison to more essential government services. My questions:

  • Why isn't the zoo able to self-fund its expansion from admission fees? Are its admission fees too low? The Oregon Zoo charges $9.75 for adults, but much smaller (and, in my opinion, less impressive) zoos and attractions I've visited are able to charge the same or more:Why hasn't the zoo more heavily depended on tourists for its funding?
  • The bond's wording sounds like a scare tactic. If the bond is not passed, does that really mean animals' health and safety will be at risk? If so, why hasn't the zoo handled its resources and prior expansions appropriately to secure its animals' health and safety?
  • Since it arbitrarily chose to change its name to the Oregon Zoo ten years ago, why are not taxpayers across the state being asked to contribute? The name erroneously implies that the zoo is supported by the state while City of Portland and tri-county taxpayers have built and supported it for over a hundred years. Why should Metro residents pay the same fees and subsidize non-residents?

The more I think about it, the less inclined I feel toward voting for this bond. At the risk of sounding like an old, anti-tax curmudgeon, this measure's sensational wording rubs me the wrong way. I also don't see why local property taxpayers should be financially responsible to expand a popular recreational attraction that doesn't seem to have properly tapped tourists' dollars.

1 comment:

Dooglas said...

You're right Norm. You mostly sound like an old, anti-tax curmudgeon. And, for what it's worth, most voters in the Metro area disagreed with you.

- Another old curmudgeon