BioPark petition signatures for tax increase head to city

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Monday was the day. Tens of thousands of signatures backing the BioPark were submitted to the City of Albuquerque in hopes of bringing major changes to the popular attraction.

The massive effort was conducted to include a sales tax increase proposal on the ballot this fall. That tax would fund a master plan for the BioPark.

It’s a 1/8 of a cent increase for the next 15 years, or 13 cents for every $100 you spend.

Roughly 14,200 signatures are needed for the proposal to get a spot on the ballot, but the New Mexico BioPark Society says about 26,000 were turned over to the city.

BioPark Society Executive Director Julie Miller Rugg says the tax would bring in roughly $15 million a year, and overhaul the zoo, aquarium and botanic gardens.

“For example the entire catwalk would be redone, there will be expansion at the elephant yard, they’ll be bringing in new penguins, we obviously have otters that will be coming here soon,” Miller Rugg said.

The master plan, which was created by the city three years ago, is a 20-year plan. Other than animals, it includes expansion of parking lots and shuttle services to get park guests back and forth quickly.

The core of the plan, though, is repairs to infrastructure.

“[The BioPark is] such a great part of our community,” Miller Rugg said. “It’s conservation, education, economic development, there’s so many things that the BioPark does, especially quality of life, though, for the citizens.”

The 20-year master plan is not set in stone, however, meaning it could be altered a bit over the years. But it won’t change by much, Miller Rugg said.

Mayor Berry, who has opposed numerous tax increases over the past few years, said he would not take a stance on this issue. Rather, he will leave it to voters.

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