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.
Scannell Replaced as Cook County Attorney
The Cook County Board of Commissioners has voted to replace Tim Scannell as county attorney, following his conviction on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. According to a commissioner, the board acted on a statute that says the office should be declared vacant. Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken was appointed in the interim.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds 2011 Union Law
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparked massive protests and led to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall election.
Court Upholds Wis. Domestic Partner Registry
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional a 2009 law creating a domestic partner registry that provides limited benefits to same-sex couples. Thursday's ruling keeps the registry active but is likely to be overshadowed by a pending gay marriage case.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID Law
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls, but the law remains blocked in federal court.
Special Report: Death Under Investigation
A woman whose son died after he jumped in front of a car believes more could have been done to prevent his death. Her attorney says litigation is likely.