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Zoo animals are among the interested parties in Tuesday's election in Saginaw

Children's Zoo at Celebration Square

The future of Saginaw’s Children’s Zoo may be decided tomorrow.

Saginaw County voters are deciding if they want to raise their property taxes by a small amount to support the zoo.

The Children’s Zoo has a little bit of everything, from monkeys and kangaroos to butterflies and reptiles.  In all, about 150 animals call the 85-year-old zoo home.

But what the zoo does not have a lot of is money.

Kevin Schultz is with the Saginaw Zoological Society. He says like other zoos, attendance has been down since the Great Recession. Since 2008, zoo officials have cut spending to match the declining revenue the zoo gets from gate receipts. But it hasn’t been enough. 

Now the privately run zoo is asking Saginaw County voters to approve a 0.2 mill property tax levy. That's roughly 15 dollars a year for the average homeowner.

Schultz says the millage would create enough revenue to help the zoo for the next decade.

He says the tax levy will help “right-size the zoo, get some operational things corrected, and position ourselves so that we will be able to once again be 100% self-sustaining.”

While he would prefer Saginaw County voters say "yes" on Tuesday, a "no" vote would not mean the end for the zoo.

“If the millage does not pass, we’re not looking at closing the zoo,” says Schultz. “But we know we will have to make some drastic measures.”

The former municipal zoo has been run by a private group since 1996.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.