St. Louis Zoo asking for one-eighth cent sales tax to pay for improvements

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A Missouri state senator wants to ensure the St. Louis Zoo never has to charge visitors.

There has been talk about an admission fee, but proposed legislation would allow St. Louis City and four counties to ask voters if they want to pass a new sales tax for the zoo. It would cost about 10 cents extra when a person spent $100 at the store.

“The St. Louis Zoo is over a century old it really has a lot of issues that have to be addressed in a lot of cases,” said Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the zoo.

Although the zoo is beautiful, behind the scenes, the age of the more than 100-year-old campus is showing. There are rusting supports, cracked concrete, and old plumbing, among other problems.

“What we’re asking right now is a vote for a vote for a vote,” Bonner said.

On Thursday, State Senator Gina Walsh pushed for legislation to allow Franklin, St. Charles, Jefferson and St. Louis counties, as well as St. Louis City, to ask voters to pass a 1/8 of a penny sales tax.

Not only is the zoo ranked as the top free attraction in the country, it’s also important to many folks. The zoo employs 975 people and officials say the zoo has an impact of more than $230 million to the local economy. The tax could also put a stop to considerations of charging visitors an entrance fee, which is well over $20 a person at some zoos across the nation.

“I can’t imagine a time in the future we would charge and admission provided we have added public support,” Bonner said.

A vote by the people is a long way off and nothing yet is set in stone, but it’s something to start considering.