ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Last October, voters passed an eighth (1/8) cent gross receipt tax to help fund improvements at the Albuquerque BioPark for the next 15 years. Last month the city received its first chunk of change.
The tax began collecting revenue for the BioPark on July 1, 2016. The city estimates it should generate about $16 million a year for the next 15 years.
Last month, the city received its first distribution, $1.4 million. The city created a master plan that outlines everything on the wish list and in what order everything will get done. Of course zoo-goers have a wish list of their own.
“The first thing that comes to mind is penguins,” Barbara Bilobran said. “Being in the dessert, there’s not a lot of opportunity to have places that have penguins.”
“I noticed some (exhibits) are closed off, they’ve moved animals to different places, so definitely bigger enclosures and even new additions to the zoo,” Halle King said.
According to the mayor, that’s all in the works. In phase one of the master plan, there are 11 projects the city expects to kick-off within the next year all across the BioPark.
Some of those items include a remodel of the seal and sea lion exhibit, a new space for the big cats, a penguin chill and a major upgrade to the entrance of the zoo.
“When you think of the zoo you think, ‘Oh, maybe a new exhibit once in awhile,’ but to think of the potential for what could come here, it’s really exciting, I mean, we deserve it.” Bilobran said.
According to Mayor Richard J. Berry, “We have to pay as we go, no one mayor gets to spend it all at once, everybody has to stick with the master plan.”
The city said the gross receipt tax will bring a giant cash stream of $250 million divided up each month for the next 15 years.
The improvements will be made at the zoo, aquarium, botanic gardens and Tingley Beach.