Zoo leaders optimistic as sales tax vote still uncertain

Zoo leaders optimistic as sales tax vote still uncertain

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Leaders of the Reid Park Zoo remain optimistic as the results of a sales tax proposal remains uncertain.

The zoo pushed for prop 202 and prop 203. The pair would allow for an increased city sales tax by one-tenth of one percent to raise money for improvements at the zoo.

Prop 202, which allows for a charter change to impose the tax, was reporting a 52 percent to 48 percent lead Tuesday night. Prop 203, however, which amends the city code to allow the tax increase, was too close to call, behind by about 350 votes.

It was widely reported that both propositions had to pass for the sales tax to pass, but that now appears not to be the case.

According to legal advice given to zoo officials, if Prop 202 is passed and Prop 203 fails, the Tucson City Council may still be able to pass the tax if it so desires.

The Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin said his department is researching the issue but will not release an opinion until all the votes are tallied. Rankin, according to the city manager's office wants to see if Prop 203 passes, in which case an opinion is moot.

According to Elections Director Brad Nelson, the ballots will be counted Thursday, November 9, 2017.

"I think there's clearly voter confusion in how it appeared on the ballot," said Ward VI City Council member Steve Kozachik.

The Zoological Society agrees there is a lot of confusion but says it split the issues on the advice of counsel.

"Our legal counsel advised us there is a single issue rule that says you cannot combine two things on one ballot," said Nancy Kluge, president of the Zoological Society. "We had the choice of taking our chances combining them but we were advised to be more conservative and make sure we don't violate the single issue rule."

Asked if she would support the sales tax if 203 fails, Ward 1 Council member Regina Romero said "I think I need to respect the will of the voters."

Kluge said whether they would have mad a different decision is hindsight.

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