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Zoo chief takes blame for improper borrowing of state money

A financially imperiled zoo in Mississippi has been borrowing state capital improvement money to cover operating expenses, a maneuver the zoo’s leader acknowledges is improper.

The Clarion Ledger reports the Jackson Zoological Society used $395,000 to cover operational expenses, repaying it in December after the city of Jackson made its twice-a-year payment supporting the zoo. The zoo then again borrowed $350,000 to cover payroll.

Executive Director Beth Poff wrote the state Department of Finance and Administration taking sole responsibility. The borrowing broke an agreement with the state that the money would only be used for construction or renovations.

The zoo’s board wants Poff to resign. The city of Jackson gave the zoo $200,000 last week after officials warned they couldn’t meet payroll. The city leases the zoo to the society.

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