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Q: Are you willing to pay higher taxes to keep the Buffalo Zoo and other cultural institutions open?

Absolutely and completely without reservation I would be willing to pay an increase in taxes to keep the zoo open. Obviously, having intelligent people govern our region and city who actually have an understanding about what is important to Buffalo and what is inherently "Buffalonian" would be preferred, but in the meantime keep the zoo funded.

Drew Kahn, Buffalo

I am not in favor of paying higher taxes period. I am willing to pay admission to any entertainment I choose to enjoy, and do not expect others to pay for me. The latest "threat" via the red budget is to collect nearly 10 percent of all our spending. When a household is in financial trouble, it cuts back on entertainment, sporting events and other unnecessary expenditures. There is no trough of money available to it by the stroke of a pen.

Richard J. Perini, Holland

Yes, I support a tax increase to maintain the arts and cultural presence, plus human services, the sheriff's office, Medicaid, etc. After that, we have to get Albany to fix this problem, which should have been addressed long ago.

Douglas J. Levy, Buffalo

Our region's cultural richness can and will lure the creative people who will drive our economic rebirth. Our arts and culture are our primary attractions. Leaders will not gather in a place that cannot sustain its creative outlets. We cannot afford these myopic budget cuts!

Patrick Keyes, Amherst

As a youngster, I learned one profound lesson: There's no free lunch. Yet cultural entities such as zoos and libraries still want Erie County taxpayers to support them through more taxes. Those who want these things to continue should pay the freight themselves.

Lloyd A. Marshall Jr., Lockport

The hallmarks of a healthy society are evidenced by the cultural treasures it fosters: the arts, the museums and zoos and its libraries. Western New York cannot afford not to take every step necessary to keep our treasures vital and secure. Our cultural institutions enhance every aspect of our society and benefit all citizens, regardless of economic or social background. We can't afford to deny ourselves or our children the lifeline of our precious institutions. Hike the tax.

Joan Peck, West Seneca

Joel Giambra has given us two poor choices -- higher taxes or decimation of our cultural treasures. Many of our cultural organizations act as anchors in their community. Closing them means deteriorating communities. Pay the tax and hope for restructuring of Medicaid and fiscal responsibility.

Elaine Wolffer, Amherst

If we have to pay higher taxes to keep the cultural institutions, I would say yes. How can we let these gems disappear? We are the fourth-rated arts destination in the country, and that's the one great thing our city has going for us. We cannot let these fabulous culturals close. We all need to step up to the plate and help our city save these organizations.

Mary Joy Buscemi, Buffalo

Absolutely not. I would much rather see the Buffalo Zoo and other cultural institutions close than pay higher taxes. Jobs and people are fleeing Western New York because of high taxes. Higher taxes are strictly a short-term fix. Medicaid reform is the only viable long-term solution. Closing the cultural intuitions will force the dysfunctional Albany Legislature into meaningful Medicaid reform.

Robert Gastle, West Seneca

Culture is not solely for entertainment. It is food for the soul. It inspires and renews. It bridges people and worlds. What a child learns from a trip to the zoo or museum, he will remember long after a trip to the mall to buy "things." We must save our cultural institutions, even if it means raising taxes and admission fees. These things are priceless. We cannot afford the cost of losing them.

Mary Connally, Buffalo

Our cultural institutions should be treasured and respected. An extra penny of sales tax is a small price to pay in order to keep our nationally renowned cultural facilities open. Our local forefathers used their wealth to give something back to the community by establishing many of these extraordinary institutions. Are we going to throw away their lasting legacies because we are too selfish to pay an extra penny of tax?

Adam Zaklikowski, Hamburg