COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Columbus Zoo is dealing with something it never has before - defeat at the ballot box.
Franklin County voters rejected a request by the zoo to double the amount of property taxes collected from $21 per $100,000 of property value to $44 per $100,000 property value each year. 92,218 (70 percent) voted against the levy while 38,914 (30 percent) voted in favor of it.
"While we appreciate the zoo and we all support Jack Hanna and the work he has done, asking voters to approve a 66 percent increase in their zoo taxes is just a luxury we can't afford for a third zoo downtown," said Mike Gonidokis, spokesman for Citizens for Responsible Taxation.
Had it passed, the new levy would have generated about $32.7 million a year compared to the existing levy, which is expiring at the end of 2015, that netted the zoo $18.9 million annually.
Gonidakis says that while the cost of things like health care, groceries, and gasoline continue to go up, paychecks have not.
"Central Ohioans are saying enough at this time."
He believes that if the zoo had simply tried to renew the existing levy it would have been successful.
"This first time were out of sync with what the voters said they wanted," said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium board chairman Phil Pikelny.
The board will take some time to try and figure out what the message from voters was and try to craft a plan that can be supported.
"We've just got to just come up with what is the answer that 69 percent of people will vote in favor of," he said.
As for the downtown location, Pikelny says it's too early to speculate about what might happen. It could simply be scaled back.
The board meets again next week and will discuss what step to take next.