Elk Grove City Council to hear update on Sacramento Zoo relocation; financing plan is absent

When the Elk Grove City Council convenes its Wednesday, October 25 meeting, one of the reports they will hear is an update on the proposed relocation of the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove. Two years ago, the city and the Sacramento Zoological Society agreed to explore relocating to Elk Grove.

A sparse staff report says the city's innovation czar, Christopher Jordan, "will provide a presentation of an update on the design work and upcoming events and activities." Aside from the $9.5 million purchase of 100 acres on the city's southside, Elk Grove initiated a $1.3 million design and an environmental impact report.

Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council have spoken glowingly about the zoo and the positive economic effects the project might have for the city. Specific financing details, however, are non-existent.

The current proposal calls for the facility to be built in phases, and the total build-out could be close to $400 million. There have been vague suggestions that fundraising, corporate sponsorships, and naming rights could pay for the relocation and construction costs.  

Singh-Allen and her city council have avoided discussing what role Elk Grove taxpayers would have in funding construction and if they will provide annual operation subsidies. Mr. Jordan's report does not indicate there will be a detailed discussion of what Elk Grove taxpayers will bear financial responsibilities.

A regional tax for the zoo?

Although unrelated to the zoo project, Ms. Singh-Allen supports Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg's regional sales tax hike proposal. Even though Steinberg's proposal is for Sacramento countywide housing and transportation, it provides Singh-Allen a playbook. 

Interestingly, shortly after the city and the zoological society began exploring the Sacramento Zoo relocation, Singh-Allen and her entourage visited the Fresno Zoo. A voter-approved Fresno County sales tax partly funds that facility's Ongoing operations.  

Given Singh-Allen's support of Steinberg's plan, a countywide or regional tax to pay for construction and ongoing subsidies for an expanded Sacramento Zoo is an idea that could be floated to voters.  

Photo by Haugenzhays Zhang via Pexels.com  

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Atticus Finch said...

Get ready to open your wallets EG taxpayers. Maybe council members can try out for the next Madagascar film? Who will play what character?


D.J. Blutarsky said...

As justification for a taxpayer subsidy, the zoo feasibility report mentioned the spinoff economic benefits of the zoo--people would come to the zoo and also spend money on other businesses in town. But just last week I heard a report that Santa Clara County is facing a $120 million budget deficit and is struggling to find ways to have Niner fans spend money after leaving Levi stadium. They seem to be going home after leaving the game without spending their money elsewhere in town.

If customers attending the games of the top NFL football team are heading home after the game, I wonder how Elk Grove will entice zoo visitors to hang around after seeing some animals running around the barren "savannah" along Kammerer Road? Just sayin'

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