The Hogle Zoo will have to wait another week to find out if the Salt Lake County Council will help it with funding.

Last month the council voted to put a $65 million bond on the ballot in November to fund new exhibits at Hogle Zoo, but council members included a criterion zoo officials must meet before seeing a penny of those funds: The zoo must raise $20 million in matching funds in little time.

Zoo officials think the fundraising mandate is unfair and nearly impossible to accomplish in two years.

Councilman Joe Hatch floated a proposal Tuesday to drop the bond question from the ballot, in the hopes that one of the Republicans would present a different option.

Zoo officials want an arrangement where they would still be required to come up with the $20 million, but in installments. One idea is to require the zoo to come up with $10 million in private funds in order to receive $35 million in public money. Then zoo officials would have to raise another $10 million in matching funds before receiving the remaining $30 million from the public-approved property tax increase.

The zoo has already raised $7.3 million in private dollars.

Zoo officials want the money to build out their master plan, which includes a new arctic exhibit with polar bears and a parking structure atop the priority list.

If voters approve the zoo bond, property taxes would jump $10 a year for the next 15 years on a home valued at $235,000.

County leaders need to work fast if they want to change the ballot question's language. Everything must be finalized by Aug. 20 to make it to the November ballot in time.


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