Next career stop for Salt Lake County Commission Chairman Brent Overson: late-night television talk-show host.

An owl sagely looking around commission chambers and flapping its wings slightly to stay balanced on its keeper's glove Monday prompted Overson to crack, "I feel like Jay Leno."The occasion was Hogle Zoo's celebration of its receipt of 12.5 percent of the $13 million raised from the county's 1/10th of 1 percent Zoo, Arts & Parks sales tax in 1997.

"(The tax) has been a tremendous catalyst" for new programs and construction, said zoo executive director Craig Dinsmore.

Eighty-three other cultural and recreational organizations have benefited from the tax, as well as 12 planned Salt Lake County recreational facilities, according to the ZAP program's 1997 annual report.

Some of the things you've been paying for with that 1 cent you fork over for every $10 of groceries you buy might sound a little dubious: potty parity? The Beastro?

The county has been renovating Abravanel Hall with ZAP funds, such as installing numerous new women's restroom stalls, including a new "mega-restroom" on the ground floor, said Utah Symphony president Don Andrews. Before, while the men were in and out and buying candy and looking at their watches during intermission, women were waiting in interminable lines to answer nature's call.

Among various other things, the zoo used its ZAP money to redo its Animal Crackers snack bar to more of a cafeteria-type thing, which Dinsmore dubbed "The Beastro."

"It's the only one with that name in the country," he said proudly.

County residents approved the ZAP tax in November 1996, and it began collections on New Year's Day 1997. It has proved to be, as taxes go, a popular one, since its benefits are quickly apparent and used by most residents.

"Many government programs are invisible to the general public, but the Zoo, Arts & Parks-supported programs are high profile," Overson said.

"This is one of the best things the commission has done, at least in my eight years," said Commissioner Randy Horiuchi.

The ZAP tax will expire 10 years after its inception, in 2007.