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Zoo Museum District Studies Consolidating Services To Boost Efficiency And Save Money

A visitor looks at pieces on display at the St. Louis Art Museum's 'The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection' exhibit. Oct. 9, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Art Museum is one of five institutions that make up the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

The Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District may recommend that its institutions consider consolidating services to save money. 

ZMD leaders will launch its shared services project this year. It will include a comprehensive review of the services and utilities used by each of its subdistricts. They include the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Science Center.

“Of that almost 11,000 vendors, only 6% of the services are supplied to two or more institutions together,” said J. Patrick Dougherty, Zoo Museum District executive director. “It seems like there’s plenty of opportunity for joint services.”

Combining services could potentially save up to 8% of each institution’s budget, Dougherty said. Those savings could allow ZMD institutions to expand its offerings and provide more funds to exhibits, programs and other projects. The institutions will make the final decision on whether any consolidations are necessary. 

The report will be a major project this year for the ZMD, which oversees the distribution of more than $80 million in tax revenues.

It will examine whether consolidating purchases and other services will help the district's institutions, and suggest a roadmap on how to do so, Dougherty said.

The ZMD institutions use the same health care provider, and while each institution will make purchases specific to its needs, the project could show several institutions could make joint purchases that could save money, he said. 

“Maybe the history museum and the art museum, for example, and perhaps the science center, might be able to utilize on maintenance — whereas the zoo and the botanical gardens, because of their space, probably has to be done internally,” Dougherty said.

Accounting firm RSM was hired to study the number of services used by ZMD institutions. The report on the vendors is expected to be released by the end of May. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.