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Monday, September 18, 2023
Tyler Lowry, Franklin County Commissioners, 614/525-6630
Jodi Andes, Franklin County Commissioners, 614/525-5273

The indictments today of several of the former members of Columbus Zoo leadership who were previously found to have misused zoo resources are a stark reminder that when you are entrusted with public resources, you should steward them to the highest ethical standard.  The Columbus Zoo is a community gem, and requires not only good stewardship, but accountability.

In 2021, the commissioners acted immediately when accusations of malfeasance at the zoo first surfaced, demanding an investigation and review of the organization’s governance structure.  They then insisted that the zoo board of directors publicly release the findings of its investigation and requested a forensic audit of all zoo funds, as well as requiring the board to immediately enhance the financial safeguards for public levy funding.  Fortunately, the forensic audit determined that there was no misuse of levy money, but the commissioners still added new officials to the zoo board, including the director of the county’s Office of Management and Budget to help keep watch over the public’s funds. 

The new Code of Regulations reviewed by the city and county which is subject to the memorandum of understanding between the Columbus Zoo, City of Columbus, and Franklin County Board of Commissioners creates an accountable governance structure to ensure greater oversight and transparency, and a new levy oversight committee made up of only public members to help protect levy dollars.  The commissioners believe that these new changes will help to safeguard the public’s trust.

The Franklin County Commissioners believe that Central Ohio residents deserve to have high-quality, transparent leadership at the helm of the Columbus Zoo.  The commissioners have worked diligently with the new leadership of the zoo, the zoo board, and other local government partners to ensure that a modern governance structure is in place, that oversight is increased, and that public levy funds are protected.