ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Tuesday Albuquerque voters will decide whether to approve a tax increase to help the city’s zoo. If it passes it would mean about $17 million more in revenue each year.
So where would that money go? It would go to projects that are critical, but probably won’t be seen by the public.
“In order for us to continue to stay relevant, we need to continue to repair, renovate and expand,” said BioPark Society Executive Director Julie Miller Rugg.
Rugg says behind the scenes several areas are in need of some major TLC.
Miller Rugg said, “Some parts of our facilities go back to the 20’s, we have need of repair, we have need of renovation.”
This tax hike would help fund those repairs. It would add a tax of 1/8th of a cent to purchases in the city or 13 cents for every $100 you spend. The money would be turned into things like roof and sidewalk repairs, new heating and cooling systems for the animals and rebuilding outdated exhibits. Like the seals and sea Lions area, which the BioPark says needs bigger indoor pools. And the big cats area is in need of bigger cages and revamped play areas.
“To have extra climbing for them to be able for them to act like they do in the wild, those are all really important things that make our animals lives even more enriched and better than they even are right now,” said Miller Rugg.
But it’s not just about the animals, the BioPark is betting the upgrades would attract more visitors.
Miller Rugg said, “It brings in tourism dollars, we educate hundreds of thousands of kids annually, it’s about conservation, education.”
But not everyone agrees.
“Every little tax increase, even an eighth of a cent, it adds onto the other tax increases over the years, and it makes Albuquerque less friendly for businesses, less economically competitive,” said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation.
About 26,000 people signed a petition circulated by the BioPark Society to get this tax increase on the ballot. The projects are part of the BioPark’s 20 year master plan.