Zoo Millage?

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The Potter Park Zoo is unquestionably a city asset, but it's also been a thorn in the city's side for several budget cycles now.

It costs the city approximately $1.5 million dollars to operate, but it is used by people from all over mid-Michigan.

An Ingham County task force's recommendation to share the cost through a millage is a victory for a city that's hoped to regionalize for many years.

This proposal on the table would likely ask for a quarter to a half percent mill increase to fund Potter Park. It must be approved by the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, then the Lansing City Council, and then, of course, the voters.

City Council president Harold Leeman, Jr. is not sure it is the best possible option. The millage would lease the zoo to the county. The city would own it, but the county would manage it. Leeman, who served on the task force, would prefer a 50/50 management scenario.

He says he and his colleagues are concerned about turning over a city asset.

"There has to be more details on how things will work out, regarding employees, who will monitor it, to make sure this asset is protected," Leeman says. "We will do everything we can to work with the county, but if the proposal ends up not being what's best for the taxpayer, we'll look at other options."

The task force will also pursue millage proposals for Clinton and Eaton counties as well. That, their chair says, would be true regionalization.