Zoo Adopts Open Meetings Policy

Zoo Adopts Open Meetings Policy

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An official with Utah's Hogle Zoo said the board will open its board meetings to the public.

Officials for the zoo, which gets about 40 percent of its budget from tax money, made the announcement Thursday.

Salt Lake County has asked that every major group receiving Zoo, Arts and Parks tax money open their meetings.

The zoo's general board meetings will be open to the public; its executive committee sessions will remain closed.

"This decision supports the council's intent to ensure accountability for public funding of all ZAP organizations," Zoo Board President James Hogle Jr. said in a statement. "We want to maintain the public's trust."

A state-ordered audit in 2002 scolded zoo officials for spending more than $7 million on a new entrance at its home in Emigration Canyon while there was still talk of moving the zoo.

Auditors also took issue with board members getting zoo contracts and with the high price tag for lobbyists.

The zoo collects about $1.9 million a year from ZAP. Additionally, state lawmakers agreed this session to give the zoo $1.6 million and Salt Lake City voters in November approved a $10.2 million bond to help expand animal habitats.

The Salt Lake City Council could approve issuing that bond and another for Tracy Aviary this month.

Councilman Dave Buhler said the zoo has developed architectural plans for a new elephant exhibit and is ready to design new space for felines. City voters also approved a $1.1 million bond to renovate Tracy Aviary, which wants to showcase the birds that migrate to and through Utah.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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