Lexington County could cut funding for Riverbanks Zoo with new proposal

LEXINGTON COUNTY,SC (WOLO)- The Lexington County Council met Tuesday night to discuss cutting some of its funding for the Riverbanks Zoo.

Dozens of zoo supporters were at the meeting, and expressed their frustration about possible cuts.

“You’ve got good hard working people there, and to not want to support that zoo, to cut budgets, to not help that zoo stay in business is just wrong,” resident Glenn Stalions said.

The zoo’s original request was $1.28 million, and the county initially only wanted to hand out $500,000. But later decided on a $750,000 proposal.

“We had suggested $980,000, which would be about a 25% cut to our funding, which would put us in a place where we can sustain operations as they currently are,”Susan O’Cain, with Riverbank Zoo said.

County Chairman, Scotty Whetstone, who made the initial proposal, says the rest of the money is going towards core functions of government.

“We just approved a preliminary approval of holiday pay for our police, fire and EMS,” Whetstone said. “Thirteen holiday pays each year.”

That cut could have an impact on the zoo and the community. Many consider the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and staple in the Palmetto State.

“It saddens me to think that y’all would consider cutting funding to something as positive as that,” resident, Beth McMaster said.

County Council members say they support the zoo. Council have two more meetings before funding for the zoo is finalized.