Revenue from Wayne County’s portion of the tri-county zoo millage is expected to drop by roughly $530,000 for the coming year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, stated a report Tuesday to the Wayne County Zoological Authority.
The 0.1-mill levy supports activities at the Detroit Zoo. In a preliminary report, zoo officials said revenue from the millage is likely to fall to $4.1 million from $4.64 million in the past, pre-COVID, year.
The anticipated decline comes after several years of steady increases, which saw the county taxpayers’ contribution rise from $3.86 million in 2017.
Zoological authority members are expected to meet again on Dec. 14 to review final figures regarding county millage revenue. Similar millages are levied in Oakland and Macomb counties.
Zoo Director Ron Kagan said a fundraiser, Sunset at the Zoo, featuring behind-the-scenes video of zoo activities, will be streamed on the zoo’s webpage, beginning 7 p.m. Sept. 17.
Kagan called 2020 a “gut-wrenching” year for the Royal Oak-based zoo with staff layoffs, attendance limits and cancelation of such events as the Zoo Boo, an annual Halloween event. Despite that, Kagan said the possibility remains that Wild Lights, the zoo’s annual holiday season event, might continue in some fashion this year.
County zoological authority Chairwoman Alisha Bell said its members were hoping for a return of full zoo operations sometime in 2021. Appointed by the county commission, the authority monitors revenue generated under the millage.
Video of the authority’s Sept. 15 meeting is available on the Wayne County Commission’s YouTube channel.
Approved by county voters, the zoo millage runs through 2027. The annual levy is $7.50 for those living in homes assessed at $150,000.