Measure Z, which would give the Fresno Chaffee Zoo sales-tax funding for another decade, was on track to pass late Tuesday night.
With 95 percent of precincts reported at midnight, yes for Measure Z had secured 71.34 percent of the vote. The measure required two-thirds, or 66 percent, of the vote to pass.
In 2004, a 73 percent vote in favor of Measure Z gave Fresno’s struggling Chaffee Zoo a one-tenth-of-a-cent sales tax in hopes of revitalization. Early results suggest that Fresno County will pass Measure Z to extend the tax for another 10 years.
Alisha Anderson, campaign manager for the Yes on Z campaign, warned that dramatic changes would occur if Measure Z did not pass. Anderson and Yes on Z supporters gathered at the zoo Tuesday evening to watch the results come in.
“I’m very proud we ran a positive campaign,” Anderson said. “We think that there’s a lot of pride in our community for the zoo, and we just were really grateful for that and wanted to make everyone confident in what we’re doing here at the zoo.”
The No on Z campaign co-chair, Joan LeRoux, argued that Measure Z had many flaws and was critical of the zoo’s lack of transparency, cost overruns and consequences of it being funded by a sales tax.
It appears that although at a lower percent than the 2004 election, Measure Z will pass despite the opposition’s arguments.
Measure Z raised over $100 million over the last ten years and is expected to raise over $105 million over the next decade if it passes.
If the measure passes, the zoo is already set on its next exhibit: the return of the hippopotamus to Fresno in a new-and-improved attraction.
“The No. 1 thing is a hippo exhibit,” Anderson said. “The second that we are confident that this passes is the second we start designing the hippo exhibit.”
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo will continue to move forward with its African Safari Exhibit regardless of Tuesday’s election outcome. The initial Measure Z money is in place to support this new attraction. However, the passing of the extension for Measure Z would allow for more expansions to the project. It is set to open in 2015.