ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Forum editorial: City's help for the zoo good policy

The Fargo City Commission's unanimous support for helping the Red River Zoo confirms the commission's enlightened understanding of a community's quality of life.

The Fargo City Commission's unanimous support for helping the Red River Zoo confirms the commission's enlightened understanding of a community's quality of life.

Commissioners approved a proposal by Mayor Bruce Furness to use a portion of revenues generated by a Tax Increment Finance District adjacent to the zoo to pay down the zoo's special assessment obligation. Special assessments levied against the zoo were much higher than projected when the initial phases of the zoo were built. The city determined it could find a mechanism to pay the assessments over time, thus eliminating the possibility the zoo might not be able to remain financially viable because of the unexpectedly high tax burden.

The mayor, Fargo Park District and West Fargo School District developed a sensible plan that not only minimizes the impact on taxpayers (if any impact can be measured at all), but also recognizes the value of the zoo to the people of the city and region.

That's what good tax policy is all about. The zoo plan is not a ground-breaking precedent, but rather a continuation of using the tax structure to stimulate, accommodate and enhance municipal development. It's a tax management philosophy that underlies the downtown renaissance zone, incentives for new business and industry, the older neighborhood house rehabilitation program and the new home construction two-year property tax break.

Opponents of the zoo plan continue to mischaracterize a vote a few years ago when city voters rejected a package of taxes which included the zoo. Taxpayers did say "no," but not to innovative support for the zoo, but rather to a direct tax for a poorly defined economic development effort and the zoo.

ADVERTISEMENT

Since that time, the zoo has demonstrated its value to the city and region by increasing attendance every year; by its unique educational component; by its growing reputation as a center of preservation of rare species; by its emergence as a location for private and public gatherings; and by the support it has garnered from private benefactors.

Those factors, plus the wonder in the eyes of children who go there to see the animals, ride the carousel and learn from a dedicated staff, prove to anyone with a dram of common sense that the zoo has earned the small measure of public support the city approved this week.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board

What To Read Next
North Dakota's judges rank near the bottom in pay and salaries aren't enough to attrack lawyers from private practice to serve on the bench.
SB 2301, supported by (GASP!) Democrats, is the best solution on the table in Bismarck
A couple of bills introduced quietly would help feed students in public schools
Mikkel Pates set the standard for agricultural journalism during his 44-year career in the region, working for Agweek, The Forum and the Worthington Globe.