Updated: 06/25/2014 7:07 PM
Created: 06/25/2014 6:52 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
A consulting firm is scheduled to arrive in Duluth next week to help create a long-term plan for the Lake Superior Zoo in an effort to become more financially sustainable.
At Monday’s Duluth City Council meeting, the councilors unanimously decided to spend no more than $59,000 to hire ConsultEcon, out of Massachusetts, to support a joint city-zoological society process that will forge a plan for the zoo to reach a financial stability and increased community appeal. The firm specializes in advising zoos, museums and other tourist attractions.
“We are committed to working with them to seek a way to retain a zoo presence that is a more powerful educational tool and a financially stable operation,” public administration director Jim Filby Williams said. Filby Williams said an aging facility and maintenance costs are beyond what the city can financially cover.
“This is a capitol liability in the order of 10’s of millions of dollars,” Filby Williams said. “On an operating basis, the city subsidizes the operation of the zoo with a subsidy of about a half a million dollars a year. Since the flood, even with that subsidy, the zoological society has struggled to make ends meet. So from a capitol perspective, we’re on a unsustainable path, and from an operating perspective we’re on an unsustainable path.”
He said ConsultEcon will help the city and zoological society come up with the most financially sound ways to continue its operation.
The consulting firm is scheduled to arrive in Duluth Monday, Filby Williams said. While here, the consultants will come up with three long-term scenarios for the zoo. Based on those suggestions the city and the zoo will work together to pick the best possible move forward.
“They’ll mine their experience and the experience of the communities and zoos across the country then advise on how we can strengthen that business model through investments in the facility and the park.”
Councilors said the cost to pay the firm is coming from the city’s already existing tourism tax.
Licenses, Deer Population Down for Wisconsin Deer Opener
The Wisconsin firearm deer hunting tradition got off to a safe start as Department of Natural Resources officials said they had received no reports of accidental shootings or other injuries by mid-afternoon Sunday on the opener of the state's nine-day gun deer hunt....
MNsure Enrollments, Renewals Approach 8,000
Minnesota's health insurance exchange says it has enrolled nearly 8,000 Minnesotans in health plans in the first week of open enrollment this fall. The deadline for enrolling in coverage that takes effect Jan. 1 is Dec. 15.
Wisconsin Gun Deer Hunt Begins
The season opened as the sun rose Saturday and will run through Nov. 30. Forecasts for opening weekend called for freezing rain and fog with highs ranging from the upper 30s to the low 40s both days.
Superior Police: Officer's Use of Force Justified
The Superior Police Department says an internal investigation has found an officer's use of force was justified in an arrest seen on a controversial dashcam video. However, the officer was given a 10-hour unpaid suspension for "vulgar and unprofessional" communication during the arrest.
Johnston Investigation Concludes Five Allegations Substantiated
An investigation into allegations that a Duluth school board member threatened the district's superintendent and other board members concludes that five of six claims are warranted. A 67-page report details the allegations against school board member Art Johnston released to Eyewitness News on Friday.