Word came earlier this week that Mayor Tom Leppert wants to turn over to the Dallas Zoological Society the keys to the Dallas Zoo in order to shave a few million off a staggering budget deficit of $190 million. But what says the City Council? We should have a pretty good idea come Wednesday: That's when the council returns from its summer break to receive a full briefing on the subject -- though a relatively detailed sneak peek is now available on the city's Web site, in which we're introduced to Dallas Zoo Management, the operating arm of the DZS to which the city would pay an an annual management fee through ... is this right ... at least 2035? (See Page 11.)
From the looks of the proposal, the mayor would like to hustle this through sooner than later: "All current Zoo employees will be terminated through the City's 'Reduction In Force' process or reassigned as of October 1, 2009," reads the doc, which says Dallas Zoo Management will be responsible for hiring all zoo personnel. (Current employees, however, "will have the opportunity to apply for positions with DZM.")
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Then there's this revelation found on Page 22 of the 25-page briefing: "DZM will provide all management services for the Aquarium at Fair Park on the same terms as for the Zoo ... provided, however, City shall pay DZM an additional management fee in an amount equal to the Aquarium's direct operating costs in excess of Aquarium revenues." The aquarium, incidentally, is already under the Dallas Zoo's purview, and it's closed till next year, when it becomes a children's aquarium.