The Waco City Council approved a contract Tuesday between the city and the Cameron Park Zoological and Botanical Society that will diminish the society’s role in zoo operations after an audit last year found lapses in financial security and policy.
The new contract comes about a year after zoo director Jim Fleshman resigned in the wake of the audit.
Under the deal, the city will hire a new director of Cameron Park Zoo, and the society will hire an executive director to support the zoo director.
The city will pay the society $100,000 annually for capital expansion planning and marketing. The zoo director will be part of city leadership and will take over operational responsibilities previously handled by the society.
“Staff believes this agreement will result in better alignment of the work between the two entities at one of our marquee quality-of-life institutions in Waco,” Assistant City Manager Bradley Ford said.
City and zoo society officials presented an outline of the contract to the city council in December.
The city likely will hire a zoo director before the society hires an executive director, Ford said.
In January, the Tribune-Herald obtained a report on the audit of financial practices at the zoo. The audit found lapses in cash-handling policies and problems in the zoo’s cafes and gift shop, according to the report, made public under the Texas Public Information Act.
Security improvements related to the zoo’s safe, cash register and cameras were made in response to the report, Ford said in January.
Shortly before Fleshman’s resignation, he announced plans to pursue a $12.5 million bond election to expand the zoo.
Though the timeline for the election was pushed back, Ford and Mayor Kyle Deaver said in January that a November bond election was a possibility.