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City Auditor says City and Zoo can keep better track of property tax revenues

City Auditor suggest better monitoring of property tax revenues used by San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is essentially on the lamb...rather lam...free to do whatever it chooses with $10.5 million a year from property tax subsidies paid for by San Diego residents, says a new report by San Diego's City Auditor.

The annual paycheck, which amounts to approximately 23 percent of the Zoo's yearly expenses, is collected by the County, funneled to the City and then get deposited in the Zoo's General Fund to help pay for exhibitions at the tourist attraction. The arrangement was set up way back in 1934 to be used "exclusively for the maintenance in Balboa Park of zoological exhibits."

In the May 6 report, the City Auditor found that while there is no evidence of misappropriation or misuse of funds and that the money is spent "in a manner broadly consistent with the City Charter," there is room for improvement and more efficient ways to track the revenues.

One area of concern is the lack of communication between the City and Zoo officials. In addition to the lack of communication, the Zoo doesn't necessarily track how the tax revenues are spent.

"As a result, neither the City nor the Zoo can definitively determine that funds collected...are being used specifically for maintenance of zoological exhibits."

And, the Auditor's report goes on to say, that even if the two entities were communicating and tracking the money, the exact use of what the money should be spent for is too broad and should be more narrowly defined.

Concluded the City Auditor: "The San Diego Zoo is an important part of the City's economy and culture. San Diego citizens support the organization through the provision of property taxes for the maintenance of zoological exhibits. Making a few minor adjustments to the process of budgeting, operating, and overseeing the Zoological Exhibits Fund as well as documenting procedures to enhance clarity will allow the process to be more efficient, transparent, and accountable to the taxpayers."

Follow this link to read the full report:

http://www.sandiego.gov/auditor/reports/fy13_pdf/audit/13-013_Zoo_Fund.pdf

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The San Diego Zoo is essentially on the lamb...rather lam...free to do whatever it chooses with $10.5 million a year from property tax subsidies paid for by San Diego residents, says a new report by San Diego's City Auditor.

The annual paycheck, which amounts to approximately 23 percent of the Zoo's yearly expenses, is collected by the County, funneled to the City and then get deposited in the Zoo's General Fund to help pay for exhibitions at the tourist attraction. The arrangement was set up way back in 1934 to be used "exclusively for the maintenance in Balboa Park of zoological exhibits."

In the May 6 report, the City Auditor found that while there is no evidence of misappropriation or misuse of funds and that the money is spent "in a manner broadly consistent with the City Charter," there is room for improvement and more efficient ways to track the revenues.

One area of concern is the lack of communication between the City and Zoo officials. In addition to the lack of communication, the Zoo doesn't necessarily track how the tax revenues are spent.

"As a result, neither the City nor the Zoo can definitively determine that funds collected...are being used specifically for maintenance of zoological exhibits."

And, the Auditor's report goes on to say, that even if the two entities were communicating and tracking the money, the exact use of what the money should be spent for is too broad and should be more narrowly defined.

Concluded the City Auditor: "The San Diego Zoo is an important part of the City's economy and culture. San Diego citizens support the organization through the provision of property taxes for the maintenance of zoological exhibits. Making a few minor adjustments to the process of budgeting, operating, and overseeing the Zoological Exhibits Fund as well as documenting procedures to enhance clarity will allow the process to be more efficient, transparent, and accountable to the taxpayers."

Follow this link to read the full report:

http://www.sandiego.gov/auditor/reports/fy13_pdf/audit/13-013_Zoo_Fund.pdf

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