When I saw this press conference yesterday I was confused about this possible merger, Thanks to SF Bizzo for some clarification;
The Butterfly House & Aquarium and Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History might be joining forces.
The boards of both organizations have approved entering formal discussions to determine whether it makes sense to combine.
A joint exploration committee will be working with a consultant to determine whether to recommend the organizations combine. The process was endorsed by Mayor Paul TenHaken, who held a joint announcement with the organizations today at City Hall.
The mayor can endorse this all he wants, but it is the city council that will have final approval. A city councilor told me today that they were not informed about this consideration until last week. However, I do think it is worth exploring and would be a good match. But I do have some questions.
What is the financial strength of the Butterfly House? Are they just struggling so they saw this as an opportunity for a tax payer bailout? What is the financial strength of the Zoo? How about exploring another option like merging and becoming a private non-profit all together and have the Zoo lease land from the city and let taxpayers off the hook?
I have heard since they terminated Ms. Whalen things haven’t been going as well (though the employees may be happier). Why is it that the first option is the taxpayers bailing both of them out? Why create this monster and take on more Capital Improvement Debt? Also, like the Pavilion and Events Center, while we all subsidize the venues with our 2ndÂ and 3rdÂ pennies, we still have to pay to walk through the doors. What percentage of people who pay taxes in Sioux Falls can afford to pay admission at the zoo or even go there? Should we be subsidizing the place?
While this needs a lot more studying, I suggest the City Council get involved and have the consultant look at them merging and become a Private Non-Profit. It’s time we start spending tax dollars on infrastructure instead of bears and butterflies.