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Cayce West Columbia Chamber asks members to turn out for public hearing to support zoo funding

Cayce-West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Cayce West Columbia Chamber of Commerce sent an e-mail to their members asking them to make their voices heard at a public hearing scheduled for tonight, Tuesday May 28, 2019, by the Lexington County Council. Its purpose is to let the council know how the community feels about the way that Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens will be funded in the future. The council will also hear from the citizens about proposed cuts to the amount of money provided by Lexington County to the zoo each year.

In the e-mail from Chamber Executive Director Richard Skipper he wrote, “As you know Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a powerful economic engine in South Carolina, the state's largest tourist attraction and the Southeast's most visited zoo. Riverbanks is also a global leader in conservation and green business initiatives.

For more than four decades, Riverbanks has received critical operating funds from both Lexington and Richland Counties through a designated property tax millage. This annual investment by the Counties has enabled Riverbanks to become a top ten zoo in the U.S. With more than 700 employees serving 1.3 million visitors each year, Riverbanks pumps more than $148 million into the local economy and supports more than 1,800 jobs around the community.

Recently, Lexington County proposed a cut to Riverbanks' operating funding from $1.28 million to $500,000. A reduction of this magnitude will have a significant impact on zoo operations, and a rippling effect on our economy and community. In addition to potential personnel cuts, Riverbanks will be forced to evaluate its ability to sustain Free Fridays for Lexington County residents and free admission for Lexington County school groups. Riverbanks is proud to be a prized part of Lexington County and the County's investment is critical to the Zoo and Garden's continued success.

During a budget session last week, Lexington County Council voted 5 - 4 to continue to pursue their proposed funding cut for Riverbanks. Thanks to Council Members Beth Carrigg, Glenn Conwell, Todd Cullum and Debbie Summers for voting in favor of your Zoo. However, the final vote is not in yet.”

Skipper continued by saying there is still time to voice your concerns about Lexington County's proposed cut to Riverbanks' operating fund. Citizens can do so tonight at a public meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the County Administration Building which is located at 212 South Lake Drive in Lexington.

“Your presence at the public hearing is critical to this process. Please join us. Again, we sincerely appreciate your voice and ardent support of Riverbanks,” Skipper ended his e-mail.

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