Should Apache Junction allow revenue-generating advertising on municipal vehicles?

Advertising on Apache Junction municipal vehicles: Are residents for it or against it, or do they have questions about the revenue-generating program they’d like to have answered?

In an effort to learn how residents feel about this, the city of Apache Junction is working on a public information campaign to identify how to best communicate the program goals and guidelines, who might have the greatest concerns and how to go about disseminating the information and gather responses, according to a presentation made to the council during its Dec. 15 work session by Roger Hacker, the city’s revenue resources manager.

“…it’s important to get accurate information out to our stakeholders,” Mr. Hacker told the council, according to a video of the meeting on the city’s website.

The vehicular advertising program was begun under the city’s Corporate Partnership Program in 2013 as a way of exploring potential new revenue sources, according to a memo from Mr. Hacker to the council.

During subsequent meetings in April, May and June of this year, the council reviewed additional information about the program. Included in the discussions were restrictions by the council regarding the types of vehicles on which the advertising could be sold and the content of that advertising, according to the memo.

Among those restrictions were that advertising could not be sold on public safety vehicles and the ads could not be for alcoholic beverages targeted for under-aged youths; tobacco products; guns or weapons; or sexually oriented businesses, according to the memo (see story Vehicular advertising FAQs below).

According to a public information campaign developed by Mr. Hacker, city officials planned to meet the week of Jan. 8 to identify individuals or groups that they would like informed about the program, identify community meetings to attend and identify news media outlets to contact about the program, according to a campaign timeline Mr. Hacker e-mailed the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent.

During the week of Jan. 12, Mr. Hacker and Constance Halonen-Wilson, the city’s public information and marketing communications specialist, would develop a press release and work with the city’s webmaster to develop an online marketing page, according to the timeline. Mr. Hacker and Ms. Halonen-Wilson would then meet with city officials to identify key people and organizations in the community to address, according to the timeline.

If approved, the advertising would be sold by the firm Public Safety Advertising, according to the FAQs. Company CEO Chad Dragos already is contemplating potential advertisers, he said during a phone interview in December. Mr. Dragos also handles advertising sales for Superstition Fire and Medical District, he said. SFMD is looking for new advertisers or to renew its contract with Mountain Vista Medical Center, 1301 S. Crismon Road in Mesa, which expired last year, he said.

The medical facility paid about $90,000 for a one-year agreement that included multiple ads on six SFMD vehicles, Mr. Dragos said.

Potential clients for the city and fire district vehicular advertising include local businesses, typically those that are active in the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, he said.

Last month, the chamber distributed a flier from Mr. Dragos to solicit advertising for the SFMD vehicles. It was part of the chamber’s weekly e-mail that distributes news from its members. The Independent is a chamber member and receives the weekly e-mails.

The council tasked Mr. Hacker to research what the advertising would cost and what the impact of advertising would be, Councilman Chip Wilson said during a phone interview last month.

Mr. Wilson said during a phone interview Jan. 8 that he would like to know more about the financial impact of the advertising, such as how much it could cost the city and how much revenue would be generated.

He also said he would like to prevent the city from appearing to promote or endorse the categories of businesses that might advertise on the vehicles.

In addition, he prefers the city not allow any one business to monopolize the advertising spaces by purchasing all the spaces on all the municipal vehicles, he said.

Mr. Hacker expects to report the results from the public information campaign to the council sometime in spring, he said during his phone interview.

The Apache Junction City Council typically meets for work sessions at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month and for regular sessions on the first and third Tuesday of the month at the Apache Junction City Hall, 300 E. Superstition Blvd. The council will not meet Monday, Jan. 19, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

For meeting dates and agendas, visit the city’s website.

How to learn more

This list of frequently asked questions, or FAQs, about the city’s Vehicular Advertising Program was developed by the city of Apache Junction. It was supplied to the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent by Mr Hacker.

•What is the city proposing to do?
As a way to supplement tax dollars, Apache Junction is selling advertising on 26 of its municipal vehicles. These vehicles were selected because of their total mileage, annual mileage, type of vehicle and available space. No public safety vehicles are included.

•Why is the city doing this?
As is the case with all municipalities, since the start of the 2008 recession revenues have dwindled. All cities have had to do more with less. Services to the public have suffered because of these decreased revenues. Apache Junction is looking at its vehicle advertising program as a way to bring in a new revenue stream to help fund city programs. It is part of the city council’s efforts to find creative solutions to the situations facing the city.

•What will happen with the money?
The funds will be used to pay for services and costs that normally have been paid for with tax dollars. As example, funds from this program could help to pay for the operation of the city’s fleet of vehicles, help to make improvements to the city’s roadway system or help to care for the cats and dogs at the city’s animal shelter.

•How does this benefit me as a tax payer?
Simply put, costs that have been traditionally paid for with tax dollars will now be paid for with funds generated by advertising on city vehicles.

•What types of ads will be accepted?
In June 2014, the city council identified those types of businesses that would be excluded from the city’s corporate partnership program. These industries include the following: alcoholic beverages when the targeted beneficiaries of the partnership are youth under the state’s legal drinking age; tobacco products; sexually oriented businesses or activities as defined in the Apache Junction City Code; guns or other weapons (including brands and distributors); and political candidates, campaigns and other non-commercial political speech.
Note: The city reserves the right to decline a business partnership in its own discretion to preserve the health, safety and welfare of its residents. However, city will not discriminate based on race, age, gender, national origin, color, religion, familial status or physical disability. Also, the city does have the right to decline a business partnership as long as the decision is related to an important government purpose, such as the protection and preservation of the public’s health, safety and welfare.

•Isn’t advertising going to make our vehicles look tacky?
Vehicles will not be “plastered” with multiple advertisements. One advertisement will be placed on the rear panel of both the driver’s and passenger’s sides of the vehicle. Using industry standards, the advertisements will be 11 inches by 40 inches and will be made from acrylic materials produced by the 3M Company. To ensure that the advertisements will reflect well on it, the city is working with the company Public Safety Advertising. PSA specializes in assisting municipal governments and fire districts to secure non-tax dollars through vehicle advertising.

•What sort of revenue could this program generate?
Potential advertisers will be offered a number of packages from which to choose from. Based on the number of vehicles in the package, the type of vehicles and the mileage of vehicles, the projected revenue for the packages varies from $11,400 a year to $59,280 a year.

•How were prices set?
The costs of the packages were suggested by Public Safety Advertising based on current advertising rates for vehicle advertising.

•How will the advertisers be selected?
Working with the city, Public Safety Advertising will release a request for proposal via local and regional media, the city’s bid list and social media. Bids will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The process has been designed to allow all interested businesses to participate.

•Will there be a contractual agreement between Public Safety Advertising, the advertiser and the city for advertising?
There will be a three-way contract between the advertiser, PSA and the city of Apache Junction. The contract will run for the length of the advertising on the vehicle. The length of the agreement will be determined by mutual agreement by the advertiser and the city. The contract will be signed by a representative of the city contingent upon approval by the Apache Junction City Council. There will be no expense to the city for PSA’s services. PSA works strictly on a commission basis. Simply put, if no ads are sold, no commissions are received. After expenses, approximately 80 percent of the fees charged for the advertising will be returned to the city for its use.

•Won’t companies that advertise with the city have an advantage when working with the city?
No. The relationship and contract will be between the business and Public Safety Advertising. The city will treat advertisers in the exact same manner it deals with those not advertising — fairly and openly. Vehicles will include signage that stipulates that the city does not endorse either the product or the company that is being advertised.

•What type of oversight will there be?
The program will be administered by executives from Public Safety Advertising and staff in the city’s Revenue Development Program. Both will give periodic updates to the city council.

•How do I get more information about the program? I may want to advertise.
You can contact either Chad Dragos at Public Safety Advertising by e-mailing cdragos@publicsafetyadvertising.com or by calling 623-680-8333; or Roger Hacker in the city’s Revenue Development Program by e-mailing rhacker@ajcity.net or calling 480-474-5086.

Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at wmiller@newszap.com

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