Not everything should be for sale as government looks for creative funds

What others say

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Money is becoming tighter and tighter for municipalities and nonprofits. Everyone is searching for new (and) creative revenue ideas.

(Recently), the Homer City Council acted on a memorandum outlining the arrangement to sell advertising, concession space, naming rights and "other things" in the new Multi-Purpose (ice rink) Recreation Facility. The money raised from these sales in the first three years of operation will go toward the construction costs of the facility. After that, the money raised will go toward maintenance and operation of the facility.

There may be some major corporate sponsors that would put up some serious money to have their name showing up through the ice for the entire season. Every goal may be shot through a set of golden arches. This practice is not uncommon and serves both parties. The nonprofit gets the money, and the corporate sponsor gets the advertising exposure. Most every sports facility around the world has signs in the outfield, corporate names on the uniforms and banners of every size and shape on every wall. ...

The melding of the corporate world with the nonprofit one is sometimes a sticky business. When does corporate underwriting on public broadcasting start to look and sound like commercial advertising? When does the publicly funded building start to take on the look and feel of a commercial enterprise? As long as there is money to be made and money that is needed, the marriage will probably continue. The Homer City Council did have the good sense to draw the line at not allowing the name of the new recreation building to be sold. A public facility should be named in honor of someone or something holding higher stature than whoever had the biggest bag of money.

The notion of selling advertising sponsorships of "things" in the public sector does offer some interesting options. Councilman Rick Ladd spoke of places around the country that sell ad space on the side of their school buses to fund the costs of keeping the buses on the road. How about police cars? Now there's an opportunity. How about an ad for Acme Towing or Jim the Bail Bondsman on the side of the patrol car? Perhaps an ad for your favorite medical insurance company on the side of the city ambulances would raise a few bucks. ... (A) homeowner's insurance company ad would go well on the side of a fire truck. Certainly, the library could put protective binders on the outside of books touting the name of the local grocery store. It seems the money raising options are endless.

... Councilman Ladd said that when he first came to town, he was told that everything in Homer was for sale. He posed the question whether it still is the case, especially if the price is right. (Let's) hope it's not. (Let's) hope the public's best interest is not for sale. (Let's) hope the integrity of ... city leaders is not for sale. (Let's) hope the beauty and grace of the land and sea around us are not for sale. (Let's) hope those things that are secured as part of the public domain for the public good are not put on the bidding block to be snatched by the highest bidder.

This is a time of financial stress, and it is a time for our public gatekeepers to be alert.

Not everything is for sale.

Homer News - Jan. 29

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