Cincinnati Zoo levy: Tom Brinkman speaks out against more tax money

Final public hearing Wednesday

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CINCINNATI - Tax foe Tom Brinkman says the Cincinnati Zoo should pay its own way and not expect taxpayers to renew the current levy. But he doesn't expect that to happen.

"I expect to be among the 40 percent that votes no," Brinkman said.

A second public hearing on the levy is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the County Administration Building, 138 East Court St., Room 605.

The Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee recommended that a five-year renewal of the 0.46-mill property tax be placed on the November ballot. But the committee noted that the zoo should reduce its reliance on tax money and bolster its financial condition.

That's only right, Brinkman said.

"As a taxpayer, I'm troubled by several of the ways they spend their money," Brinkman said of the zoo. "They bring in Gladys (baby gorilla) from Texas and give out free tickets to everyone who lives in Avondale, and to handicapped people, and it's only to pass the levy.

"Their attendance is up but their revenue is not. They're buying votes by giving free and reduced-price admissions. It's not theirs to give away."

The three county commissioners will decide whether or not the zoo levy renewal goes on the November ballot.

Brinkman expects the commissioners to put on a show first.

"They rattle their sabers a little bit, but they never do anything about it. They so the same thing with the library,  but their bark is worse than their bite," Brinkman said.

Zoo director Thane Maynard made his pitch to commissioners at the first public hearing two weeks ago.

The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $10.60 a year. The levy will bring in about $6.5 million this year.

Read the Tax Levy Review Committee's recommendation letter to the commissioners at

Read the committee's 116-page report, "Performance Review of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden," at


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