Letter from the Director
As a Pueblo Zoo member and supporter you have, undoubtedly, already become quite familiar with the ballot initiative that will appear on our November ballot: 1a Improving Our Community. You likely received the informational letter from the Zoo that we sent at the end of September…you probably received the direct mailers that came out from the 1a campaign over the past few weeks…and you’ve been reading the numerous Op Eds and Letters to the Editor in The Chieftain. And, if you are like most people I have spoken with, with each new bit of information comes more questions.
We’d like to use this blog post to make sure that you…our Zoo family…understands exactly what this initiative will mean for our Zoo (and for you!) when it passes and that youunderstand what will happen if it doesn’t.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: if 1a doesn’t pass in November we will face another year of deep budget cuts from the City and County (potentially even a full cut of all City-contributed funds which is 50% of our budget!) . As a result of last year’s cuts, the Zoo is running a significant operating budget deficit for 2013. We’ve been able to continue programs and services as in the past and, with a bit of creativity, have been able to do a bit more this year, but the bottom line is that costs continue to go up beyond our control (utilities, hay, animal feed, transportation expenses) and we have been forced to dip into our reserves to fund operations. If we face another year of further cuts we will be forced to make deep cuts to our programs and services. Chances are that we would no longer be able to keep our doors open 7 days a week and we may have to close exhibits. Imagine that! If the City cuts all funding we would have to make even further cuts which means we would probably have to cut all education programs and community events – i.e. no programs for disadvantages students who desperately need them, no Zoo Boo or Senior Safari, etc. You get the picture. NOT pretty.
But I am optimistic that our community will continue to support this zoo…your Pueblo Zoo. I’m optimistic that the community will reflect upon the tremendous resources we bring to ALL members of our community (more than 58% of our education programs reach students in Title 1 schools …our new library pass program provides Zoo visits free of charge to anyone who checks them out) and agree that a 1Ž2 cent sales tax increase (that’s just one nickel for every $10 spent) is a small price to pay for all that our community gets in return.
I’m a glass-half-full kind of thinker and prefer to think about what will be WHEN 1a passes rather that what will happen if it doesn’t. I prefer to imagine a Pueblo Zoo with new exhibits and animals that inspire and welcome Pueblo County residents, as well as, visitors from around our region. I prefer to imagine seeing children climbing on Monkey Mountain once again. I prefer to imagine upgrades to many of our older exhibits and facilities.
I hope you’ll join me in seeing those dreams become a reality. Read on to learn more about what 1a means for our Zoo and join us in supporting this measure. We wouldn’t ask for your help if it wasn’t critical to the future of the Pueblo Zoo.
For more facts, tools and resources, please go to our 1a Section of the Pueblo Zoo website.