Henry Vilas Zoo nonprofit group, collaboration with the county could end in a dispute about zoo operations


MADISON, WIS. – A brand new contract between the Zoological Association Henry Vilas and Dane County has not been signed as a result of the two events haven’t reached settlement on the new circumstances.

The proposed contract was to exchange the present five-year contract that expires on March 31, officers mentioned.

According to the HVZS, the new proposed contract would scale back the function of zoological society and the skill to boost funds for the zoo.

The province contracts with the CVS for direct monetary help, exploits concessions and sights corresponding to the carousel and the practice, coordinates volunteers and assists with instructional programming, based on the launch of CVS.

In a letter from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to the HVZS, Parisi expressed concern about the re-use of CVS sources that, based on the public, are going to look after animals at the zoo.

"If the Society's intention was to really support the zoo, the dollars that were collected at the zoo and in the name of the zoo would go back to the zoo," Parisi mentioned in the launch. & # 39; Instead, the funds raised in current years have gone to accounts which can be inaccessible to the zoo with out the zoo figuring out. & # 39;

Parisi mentioned the HVZS has extra employees than what the zoo makes use of to run the total zoo, and the pay of these employees competes in opposition to funding for zoo initiatives.

"You can imagine our surprise when we heard in your letter that you have 68 employees working for the Society," Parisi mentioned. "The Society's ambition to increase its own staff created an artificial and inefficient demand for valuable financial resources collected on the zoo grounds."

Parisi mentioned that the $ 6 million raised by the HVZS and a capital fund that was arrange will not be accessible to the zoo.

"It is unacceptable that public land is used to raise dollars for a fund in which financial transactions are made without transparency," Parisi mentioned. "Over time, the Society has established greater barriers against the zoo that receives dollars that are collected in its name."

Parisi additionally mentioned that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums mentioned that if the two events signed the proposed settlement with HVZS, accreditation can be misplaced this yr as a result of AZA accreditation requires a help group to not train management over the zoo's actions.

"We have been negotiating with the County in the past year and have worked in good faith to develop a new operational agreement that could help HVZS continue its mission to support the zoo," mentioned Tom Hanson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CVDs. "Unfortunately, to our disappointment, the county has recently put forward conditions that we do not agree with and that the parties' ability to continue under a very successful public-private partnership is significantly reduced."

According to the launch of the CVZS, the new contract proposed by the province consists of organizational and procedural modifications that might have restricted the scope and obligations of CVDs, together with relocating CVD places of work and employees exterior the grounds of a zoo and transferring volunteer coordination and concession operations to the province. The proposed contract would even have diminished the function of CVDs in offering annual monetary help for the zoo, officers mentioned.

"The board simply did not believe that the conditions outlined by the province would have allowed CVDs to do its best work," mentioned Dan O & # 39; Callaghan, authorized consultant for the CVDs, in the launch.

HVZS was established in 1914 with the intention of offering steady help to the zoo by way of monetary, human and operational sources, officers mentioned. The HVZS has labored to maintain the zoo free and accessible to all friends.

The Board of Directors of HVZS will stay in place to make sure a easy transition when concluding the present contract and to make sure that all current funds raised by CVDs can be correctly distributed in the course of initiatives from the zoo, based on the launch. These funds, together with the grant and the operational reserve, add as much as greater than $ 6 million.

Parisi mentioned that if the new contract is just not signed, the province is prepared to offer the needed funds to make sure that the transition minimizes the interruptions of holiday makers to the zoo.

"When they are complete, those who come to visit our free zoo and donate to it can be 100% sure that the dollars they give to support the care and welfare of these animals will go to the animals," Parisi mentioned.

According to the letter, Dane County invests greater than $ 1.7 million annually to run the Henry Vilas Zoo.

According to the phrases of the present contract, if a new contract is just not signed earlier than March 31, these remaining funds can be deposited into a belief account and every withdrawal of that account requires written approval from the province and HVZS.

CVZS board members have requested the province for a short-term extension to proceed the negotiations. It is unclear whether or not that has been granted or refused.

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