Zoo Tax Renewal Will Go to Fresno Voters in June
Update, 3/08/2022: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to place Measure Z on the June 7, 2022, ballot at its Tuesday meeting.
A countywide sales tax funding the Fresno Chaffee Zoo could return to voters as soon as June.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will decide on Tuesday whether to place the tax measure on the June ballot.
The 0.1% sales tax is set to expire in 2025. If placed on the ballot, voters will have an opportunity on June 7 to extend Measure Z for another 15 years, through 2040.
In recent years, the zoo has added an African exhibit, Sea Lion Cove, a Dino Dig, and has several other upgrades ongoing.
Related Story: Photos: Betty White’s Love of Animals Included Those at Fresno Chaffee
$15 Million a Year for the Zoo
The Fresno County Zoo Authority says Measure Z raises approximately $15 million a year for various zoo services and infrastructure. Two-thirds of the money raised would go to capital projects; one-third would go toward operations and maintenance.
During a zoo authority discussion on Feb. 16, members debated when and why the measure should be placed on the June ballot.
One reason discussed was to give enough time for another election in case voters reject the next Measure Z. It would also prevent competing with other tax measures on a November ballot.
Another reason was to get a jump on any possible opposition.
“The likelihood of having any kind of organized opposition is going to be very low,” zoo board member Ralph Waterhouse said.
The authority board also debated the measure’s length — 15 years won out over a 10-year renewal; whether to change the spending formula — out of fears of opposition, it will not; and whether to incorporate adjacent Storyland and Playland into the funding — it will not.
Related Story: Tech Entrepreneur Donates $50K for Chaffee Zoo’s New Tiger Center
Approved in 2004, Extended in 2014
Measure Z was first approved by voters in 2004 and renewed for 10 years in 2014. The zoo estimates the one-tenth of 1% tax it had raised $137 million in revenue through 2020.
It will need to receive two-thirds approval from the voters to pass.
Both the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and Measure Z proponents said they would comment after Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.