The Budget and Billy the Elephant

Los Angeles' budget shortfall could mean sending its zoo's only elephant to a Northern California sanctuary. Over time, funding for city services are also predicted to get slashed.
December 5, 2008, 6am PST | Judy Chang
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"The City Council voted Wednesday to halt further funding for the planned $42 million Pachyderm Forest exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo while it debates what should happen to the partially completed exhibit, which already has cost $12 million. The vote came two days after the council's budget committee recommended canceling the project as a cost-saving measure.

The move is an example of how shrinking city budgets are forcing hard choices that can kick up local ire.

Declining tax revenues, triggered by the recession, mean Los Angeles is facing an expected $110 million shortfall in its $7 billion budget, which runs through June 30. The expected shortfall could surpass $300 million next year, prompting the city to discuss a wide variety of measures, such as cutting funding for crossing guards, public libraries and numerous other services.

Over the next few weeks, committee members will review options for the exhibit that include possibly privatizing the zoo.They also will be deliberating the fate of 21-year-old Billy, and whether to transfer him out of the zoo."

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Published on Thursday, December 4, 2008 in The Wall Street Journal
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