Keep our zoo and museum strong for generations to come. By: Harold Voorhees, Kent County Commissioner

The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum are an essential part of what makes Kent County the amazing community it is.  These two treasured cultural institutions attract visitors from across the state and beyond, and help make Kent County a great place to live, work, raise a family or start a business.

We’re truly doing great things in Kent County, and the Zoo and Museum are a key part of that success story– fueling our economy,  educating our children and improving our quality of life. That’s why so many individuals and organizations from across Kent County are asking us to  vote Yes on the Zoo and Museum proposal this November.

This proposal will create a dedicated, stable source of funding so the Zoo and Museum can perform essential maintenance and make repairs to aging facilities. It will also support both institutions in their mission to provide quality care for the 1,600 animals at the Zoo and the 250,000 unique artifacts at the Museum. It will allow the Zoo and Museum to update and expand and educational exhibits so all Kent County residents can continue to enjoy them for years to come.

In addition, the proposal will give children in Kent County free admission to the Museum and school groups free admission to the Zoo, reduce admission for Kent County seniors and provide free parking at both the Zoo and Museum. Many people are unaware that the Zoo and Museum have faced significant reductions in public funding, forcing them to reduce access to exhibits, delay maintenance and repairs, even make staff layoffs. That’s why this proposal is so necessary.

The proposed rate of .44 mills means an increase of about $37 per year for the average homeowner in Kent County. All millage dollars will go through an independent audit and be publicly reported to Kent County to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and transparently.

This proposal is an opportunity for Kent County voters to make an investment in our community as well as make sure our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities we did to learn, explore and enjoy these treasured institutions. Moreover it’s a way to keep the success story of West Michigan going: A recent economic report from Grand Valley State University showed that the zoo and museum together generate $62 million each year for our community, and that number will continue to grow as we support these institutions.

Remember this November – You’re not through until you vote Yes for the Zoo and Museum.

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