Potawatomi Zoo seeks food and beverage tax to help pay for $37 million expansion plan

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

Leaders at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend are seeking a new food and beverage tax in St. Joseph County to help pay for planned improvements at the zoo over the next few years.

The tax would be 0.025 percent, or 25 cents for every $100 spent on dining in St. Joseph County, according to WNDU. If passed, the tax is expected to raise about $1 million per year, which would go directly to the Potawatomi Zoo.

The zoo unveiled a $37 million growth plan in 2015, including adding more animals, building more interactive attractions for zoo visitors and expanding the breeding program in affiliation with the South Bend Cubs.

Zoo officials said at the announcement that they are also seeking grants and private funding from donors to help pay for some of the improvements. Increased revenue could also help fund the projects.

The Potawatomi Zoological Society will seek lawmaker approval for the tax from the Indiana General Assembly. If lawmakers approve the tax, elected officials in St. Joseph County who represent at least half of the county’s total population (such as the South Bend Common Council and the St. Joseph County Council combined) would have to approve the tax.