Potawatomi Zoo and City of South Bend close to partnership deal - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Potawatomi Zoo and City of South Bend close to partnership deal

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 The following is a press release from The Mayor of South Bend's office.

The City of South Bend and the Potawatomi Zoo Society (PZS) are entering final negotiations to complete the terms of a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Under the proposed multi-year agreement, PZS would assume operational management of the zoo on January 1, 2014.

"A partnership with the Potawatomi Zoo Society would provide an effective management model for long-term success," Mayor Pete Buttigieg says. "Over time, such an agreement would provide savings to South Bend taxpayers while maintaining the quality of one of our community's top attractions."

The partnership will establish the City's annual financial support for the zoo. The agreement also will outline a pay structure for zoo staff members, preserving all current positions and existing salary levels.

"The animals will continue to receive the high standard of care that is currently provided," says James Martindale, president of the Potawatomi Zoological Society Board, "And the visitor experience will continue to be enhanced."

Under the partnership, the City would provide an annual operating and capital investment while retaining ownership of the zoo's assets. Over the length of the agreement, which will be finalized over the next few weeks, the City's annual subsidy would decrease as the PZS assumes a larger share of the financial responsibility.

"We're creating a single management structure for the zoo," City Controller Mark Neal says. "The City and the Potawatomi Zoo Society would no longer share operating responsibility, improving efficiency and promoting cost savings that serve the long-term interests of both the City and Potawatomi Zoo."

Potawatomi Zoo is the state's oldest zoo and one of only about 10 percent of zoos and aquariums in the nation to have accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

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