(KCPW News) Hogle Zoo will soon get $33 million in taxpayer approved bond money. The Salt Lake County Council decided yesterday the Zoo has successfully met the conditions of the bond by raising $11 million in matching funds. But Utah Taxpayers Association Vice President Royce Van Tassell questions the accuracy of the zoo’s accounting, and believes the County Council is setting a fiscally irresponsible precedent.
“The county council has refused to stand up for tax payers. There were very specific requirements that were set out: $11 million needed to be raised privately by the zoo. They haven’t met that obligation,” Van Tassell says. “And for whatever reason, the county council is willing to just throw taxpayers under the bus. It’s abundantly clear this is not the last time the county council will be faced with this dilemma.”
Van Tassell is also accusing the zoo of using pay-to-play tactics by hiring a concessionaire that made a donation to the zoo.
But County Council Chairman Joe Hatch says the zoo has satisfied the terms of the bond agreement, and that the Utah Taxpayers Association simply didn’t want the bond in the first place.
“The $11 million is there. They’re just complaining and saying, ‘Well, you don’t count this dollar here or this dollar here. They’re just going into the minutiae. And you say, ‘Why is someone going into the minutiae?’ It’s because they really didn’t want this to begin with,” Hatch says.
The $33 million bond will help the zoo build a new Arctic exhibit and other projects.