Williamston voters made decisions on three ballot proposals for Ingham County including one for Potter Park Zoo that looks to gain funding for operations, maintenance and improvements.
Each Ingham County proposal centered around reauthorizing funding for basic healthcare to low-income residents, renewing funding for the countywide system of trails and parks, and reauthorizing funding for the operation of the Potter Park Zoo and Potter Park. Ed Potter, a 36-year-old Williamston resident, shared his thoughts on the proposal and said he voted yes. Click here to listen to his interview.
Potter Park Zoo sought funding for operations, maintenance and improvements. Potter Park is a staple of Ingham County, and Williamston residents appreciate the value of having it in their county. “I think that we are a cultural destination, said Amy L. Morris Hall society executive director at Potter Park Zoo. “We bring in tourists and we have an economic impact on the community.”
The ballot proposed a six-year renewal of a 0.5-mill tax placed to help fund and support the Potter Park Zoo. According to The State News the zoo millage passed, 54,440 yes to 19,993 no votes.
Hall said voters approved in 2006 the initial millage. “That millage has been used for zoo operations, and it has done a great job of helping us keep up with day-to-day animal care, paying animal staff and veterinarians as well as our maintenance team,” said Hall. However, she said it has not helped with improvements that need to happen on the property, which is why they need this proposal passed.
The increase in terms of how it impacts the households of taxpayers is modest. “It’s a very slight increase for the taxpayers, that could have a dramatic impact on the future of Potter Park Zoo,” said Hall. A household with a $100,000 income will only have an additional $4.50 per year in taxes, she explained.
Kimberley Leedom, a 20-year-old Williamston resident, said she supports the ballot. “I go to Potter Park on occasion,” said Leedom. “It’s such a nice little place to go and hang out. It’s definitely important that it says intact. There isn’t much to do here so it’s nice to have Potter Park.”
Potter Park will be celebrating 100 years in May. Voters from Williamston kept that in mind as they voted. “I think people love Potter Park,” said Linda Stephen, after placing her vote at Williamston Middle School. “So as a taxpayer, I’m absolutely willing to help support it.”
Hall said the zoo is celebrating its centennial this year, and the buildings are desperate for updates. “Our buildings are aging and in some instances deteriorating, and repairs are really costly,” she said. If approved, the new millage will give them enough money to take care of this problem.
“I believe my vote is very important, and I was supportive of the zoo proposal,” said Rachel Seabolt, a Williamston native. “I think it is good for the area,”
If the millage is not approved she said they are prepared to attempt to be on the ballot as soon as possible. “If it is not approved we are going to have to change our plans,” said Hall. “Obviously, things will happen more slowly,” “
The zoo is accredited by an organization called the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Potter Park Zoo is required to meet certain criteria, which includes standards for animal management and care regarding living environments, social groupings, health and nutrition. “If we do not meet that criteria, our accreditation is threatened,” she said.
Meeting the accreditation is one of the main reasons the proposal being passed is so important to Potter Park Zoo. “We really need to pass this, but if this doesn’t pass we will have to find a way to get this additional funding for repairs,” said Hall.