The report on Sacramento Zoological Society's $50 million commitment rife with 'fuzzy math'

An integral part of the massive $300 million Sacramento Zoo relocation project to be approved next Wednesday by Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Sin...


An integral part of the massive $300 million Sacramento Zoo relocation project to be approved next Wednesday by Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council is a $50 million commitment by the Sacramento Zoological Society. 

The 608-page staff report, a labyrinth of information, includes some information about the SZS's $50 million commitment. A cursory glance at the figures being reported reveals a certain haziness, to borrow the words of former President George W. Bush, it's a case of 'fuzzy math.'

According to the staff report, the SZS reached the $12 million goal set for them by next Wednesday's approval date. Not only did the SZS reach the goal, they exceeded it.

The city of Elk Grove set a goal of $12 million, and miraculously, they have commitments of $14.9 million. Interestingly, the SZS got these promises over a four-and-a-half-year period. 

Here's the problem, though: They have only collected $2.7 million. So, as a percentage of the promised donations committed over the last four and a half years, they have collected only 18 percent. Not even one-fifth has been collected.  

Granted, some of these commitments are to be spread over the next several years. But can we be sure that these future donations won't be double counted as part of new promised donations?

Furthermore, the next unaudited report due by January 1, 2025 [typo in the city's report shows 2024, see below] must show $5 million in new donations. Next year at this time, the SZS will have to gather another $10 million in new donations, for $15 million by this day next year.

Of course, getting promises and collecting are different matters. Perhaps the SZS will deploy some Tony Soprano-like associates to ensure timely collections. 

It will be noteworthy to see how this is accounted for over the next 12 months. As Bush would say, they have some fuzzy math.   

The images below are on the staff report's page 123 and page 122.  






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Deejay Blutarsky said...

In reviewing the staff report, it looks like the City finally walked away from the ultimate fuzzy math that they were previously trying to sell us on--that according to the feasibility study that was done last year, other businesses in the City would enjoy millions of dollars in spinoff economic benefit from additional spending by customers visiting the zoo. Surely our chains are better in Elk Grove and worth the experience?

The rationale for subsidizing the zoo now is essentially that saving the animals is a good thing and it will put Elk Grove on the destination map! There is so much wiggle room in the terms of the draft financial agreement between the zoological society and the City, all I can say is California State Senator Henry Mello and State Assemblyman Mike Roos would be proud!

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