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The assertions in recent years by the Wharton Administration that City of Memphis could not afford a $5 million parking garage are cast into doubt by its own budgets, which show that zoo funding significantly increased during the Wharton Administration’s six years in office.

Mayor A C Wharton said in May, 2014, that a 400-space, four-level parking garage would cost $5 million parking garage.  Yearly bond payments for that amount would be about $375,000 a year, which he said his administration could not afford.

When it took office, the Wharton Administration inherited a budget prepared by the Herenton Administration for the 2010 fiscal year, and it included $2,127,00 in operating funds for the zoo. In the six budgets of the Wharton Administration, zoo funding increased above that 2010 level, and the cumulative total of increased zoo funding over six years was $4.97 million.

In the current operating budget for City of Memphis – the last prepared by the Wharton Administration – the zoo is receiving $1,044,017 more than it received when Mayor Wharton took office.

That said, zoo funding peaked at $3.9 million in fiscal year 2014 before dropping to $3.2 million in the current 2016 fiscal year (City of Memphis fiscal years are from July 1 to June 30).

In other words, between FY 2014 and FY 2016, City of Memphis funding for the zoo declined by $742,649, which means that the Wharton Administration could have taken about one-half of the savings from the decrease and paid for the parking garage described by Mayor Wharton.

Meanwhile, from 2010 to 2016, Memphis Zoo received $4,675,000 in CIP (Capital Improvements Projects) funding. Annual debt service on those bonds for this year are about $397,400.

City of Memphis Funding for Zoo Operations:

FY 2010 – $2,127,000

FY 2011 – $2,337,305

FY 2012 – $2,199,278

FY 2013 – $2,690,639

FY 2014 – $3,913,666

FY 2015 – $3,423,379

FY 2016 – $3,171,017

Budgetary Note: Years 2009-2014 – Actual Funding; 2015 – Forecasted Funding; and 2016 – Budgeted Funding.­

City of Memphis Capital Improvements Project (CIP) Funding for Memphis Zoo:

FY 2010 – $250,000 major maintenance and $2.5 million for “Hippo Exhibit”

FY 2011 – $250,000 major maintenance

FY 2012 – $250,000 major maintenance and $175,000 Visitors Center

FY 2013 – $500,000 major maintenance

FY 2014 – $250,000 major maintenance

FY 2015 – $250,000 major maintenance

FY 2016 – $250,000 major maintenance

Source Documents: City of Memphis Budgets


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