Columbus Zoo Levy Overwhelmingly Shot Down

A rendering of what the downtown zoo experience would look like.(Photo: Columbus Zoo)
A rendering of what the downtown zoo experience would look like.(Photo: Columbus Zoo)

Update 10:19 p.m.
The WOSU Newsroom has called the race on Issue 6, a permanent levy for the Columbus Zoo, as a failed levy. With 360 precincts reporting and the Columbus zoo conceding defeat, the levy has failed.

Stay with WOSU News throughout the night and early in the morning on Morning Edition for complete coverage of the May 6 election.


Update 10:03 p.m.
Supporters of the Columbus Zoo Levy are close to conceding defeat on Issue 6. With 360 of the 1072 precincts reporting, nearly 70 percent of the votes against the levy.

Columbus Zoo board chair Phil Pikelny said if voters reject levy it’s “hard to say what happens next.”


Update 9:57 p.m.
From @mthompsoncbus: For second time in five months, Central Ohio voters poised to overwhelming reject tax hike backed by business and civic leaders.


Update 9:46 p.m.
Things are looking bleak for supporters of Issue 6. With 244 of the 1072 precincts reporting, the zoo levy is failing by more than a 2-1 margin. There have been, including absentee ballots, 29,486 votes against the levy and 13,460 votes in favor of the levy.


Update: 9:30 p.m.
John Boehner is easily defeating his tea party opponents in the Republican primary race for Ohio’s 8th district. Boehner has 71 percent of the votes with the next closest opponent at 23 percent.

Ed Fitzgerald is taking care of business in the race for the democratic nominee for governor. Fitzgerald has 83 percent of the votes with 44 percent of the precincts reporting.


Update: 9:21 p.m.
The first round of May 6 votes have been counted for the zoo levy, and Issue 6 is losing by more than a 2-1 margin. With 133 precincts reporting, Issue 6 is losing 20,556 – 9,414. There are still about 900 precincts that have yet to report their May 6 ballots.

Issue 1, a statewide issue that would borrow money for infrastructure, is passing with 65 percent of the votes, voting yes. There are still about 6,000 precincts that need to report for Issue 1.


With absentee votes counted, the Columbus Zoo Levy is losing by a 2-1 margin. Among absentee voters 10,684 voted No on Issue 6, while 5,324 voted Yes. Results from today’s balloting have yet to be posted.

The Columbus Zoo levy would increase from 0.75 mills to 1.25 mills. It would more than double the amount of Franklin County property taxes that pay go toward the zoo and would be permanent.

Supporters say the nationally recognized zoo needs the money to renovate and expand facilities at the Powell zoo and build a satellite zoo in downtown Columbus.

Opponents argue the tax increase should not be permanent and they say the county has more pressing needs than a downtown Columbus zoo. They also argued that Delaware County voters should help pay for the zoo because their county is home to the zoo.

Adding intrigue and angst to the campaign was the entrance of Americans for Prosperty, a Virginia based anti-tax group founded by the Koch Brothers. It mailed flyers urging voters to reject the levy.

  • John George

    as it should fail! i hope all the levy”s fail! this state is tax crazy at our, homeowners, expense! many people have lost there homes so property owners are paying double! were carrying a huge budget load to a government that could care less what we need or want! my blessing on all the voters that voted no!

  • dawndays

    I’d rather my taxes go to the animals at the zoo. They need the money and must be cared for too.

  • Northampton

    The #1 zoo in the country, brings money into the area and people don’t believe they should support it — morons

    • RedStorm45

      This is incredibly false and short-sighted. People just don’t want to support it by DOUBLING the current levy amount and making it permanent. Really not that hard to understand.

    • jeannie

      Columbus is not the #1 zoo in the country. It is one of the top zoos.
      #1 will always be the San Diego zoo.

      • RumpyDog!

        well that’s certainly a reason to shoot down the levy, isn’t it?

  • Louis Verzi

    This business also operates a golf course, an amusement park, an aquarium, a zip line and a hotel. This is not an organization dedicated to the animals, it is a business exploiting animals for profit.

  • T Jones

    I voted against the zoo levy mainly because they were going to expand its facilities to downtown Columbus. I couldn’t stand the thought of Michael Coleman being anywhere close to it. He drove Columbus into slumhood and it would only have been a matter of time that the Columbus wing of the zoo would have followed. Besides, Delaware residents should have been asked to help with the tax funding too.

    • RedStorm45

      Current state law does not allow for a multi-county levy to be proposed.

    • Frank W

      Are you serious? Downtown is flourishing. Coleman picked his battles and is doing a great job.

  • Michael

    I have to say. Delaware County collects no tax revenue from the Zoo. Coupled with taxing Delaware County residents does not make a whole lot of sense. I don’t believe we need a “downtown zoo” but I do believe that the growth and tourist attractiveness shouldn’t be ignored. But regardless, doubling, PERMANENTLY, the tax is simply silly. Maybe for a few years, but home-owners shouldn’t have to bear the burden more than they already are. It’s sad that it was rejected, but at the same time I feel like it was sensible of the voters to do so.

  • JJ

    “0.75 mills to 1.25 mills” is less than double. How about a levy for the schools to teach math.

  • John Redding

    Isn’t the zoo a privately owned business? They have members that support them. They charge user fees to use the zoo, and amusement park. They take donations in from supporters, and why is it that every time they want to expand we have to pay for it? If the zoo is making profits as a business even though they try to act like a non-profit why is it the people are forced thru extorted taxation to pay for something that many don’t use. I think I went to the zoo once when I moved here 30 years ago, I paid my fee to get in and haven’t had any desire to return, but I still have to pay more in property taxes each year than my entry fee was and I don’t even use the zoo.
    I don’t think any taxes, in any form should go to the zoo. It’s not an essential part of government. It’s merely Jack Hanna’s way to get paid travel and perks at tax payers expense. Let’s get on a campaign to make the zoo self supporting and quit being a dependant leach on tax payers. We have enough leaches already.

  • Mike Flair

    Let’s discuss a few things. Firstly, consider that many of the nicest downtown Columbus homes, condos, and townhouses are tax abated. Why is this? Why should so many others be forced to pay out the nose so that a lucky few enjoy this unfair advantage? Let’s abolish these abatements first and then we can discuss levies.

    Contra the comment below by Louis Verzi, with which I respectfully disagree, the zoo needs to figure out how to fund itself. It’s better for both the animals and us humans in the long run if the zoo can stand on its own two feet, and it’s far from “exploitation” to add a couple other attractions to generate revenue. Do you think the lions are suffering because there’s a golf course? Once again, I respectfully disagree with that sentiment. However, I do agree that any zoo should indeed focus on its wildlife collection, which I why I thought this particular proposal for a downtown zoo was less-than-stellar. If they think a downtown zoo would raise money in and of itself, they should build it with mostly private funding. I didn’t much like the proposed downtown “zoo” because it looked more like a zoo-themed playground. Why not actually display some interesting animals and aquatic life?

    Delaware County taxpayers need to contribute their.. well, I never thought I’d say these rotten words, but they need to contribute their (gulp).. “fair share.” The main zoo is in Delaware County, certainly a bit of a drive for those who actually inhabit our city, which means the citizens of D-county enjoy the attraction, and increased property values (i.e. equity), without the burden of paying for this. One of the reasons I think a real downtown zoo would be a decent idea is that Columbus residents could enjoy this same quality of life and property value bump. This plan, though.. no.

  • Steve Black

    First and foremost the voters have spoken.
    This is not due to any push by anyone including
    The Koch Brothers. I thing most Franklin County
    Residents feel as I do that the zoo is inconveniently
    Located and they can’t get with the idea of
    Traveling up to an half hour to visit the zoo.
    Figuring gas cost, parking, admission fees,
    and food can be a costly expense.
    It seems that the Tax payer doesn’t get why
    They have to pay for a facility that another County
    That gets free of tax liability and better access than
    The county it was intended to serve. Annexing
    The land only shifted the burden onto many
    Who can’t afford the luxury of a trip to the zoo.
    Seems the solution is to give back the land to
    Delaware since they seem better of being a
    more upscale and growing community. Remove
    the Columbus name and call it the Delaware
    Zoo. If Franklin County then in the future wishes
    They can peruse one of their own making in their county.