My request was based on the idea that most cities showcase their annual events in this manner, which attracts a great deal of outside sales tax revenue for the city while informing residents of upcoming city events. As with all audience items brought before the council, I was told by Mayor Brent Ives that the matter would be referred to city staff, who would in contact me within 30 days with a resolution or the item would come back to council as an agenda item.
To my pleasure, the item came back to council as an agenda item and was approved by the council in a 5-0 vote for city staff to proceed with a plan to change the local signage ordinance to allow for such banners. However, the next morning I began receiving phone calls from fellow businesspeople in town and other citizens who read in the Tracy Press online that the city planned to spend $30,000 to implement this program.
I read the article as well, and my perception of the article was what others had echoed to me. Many were concerned that the city was planning to spend $30,000 in monies on banners to promote city events during a time when money is obviously tight, city employees are having hours cut and citizens are being asked to pay additional charges for paramedic services within the city to offset operational costs for the fire department.
So I contacted Scott Claar with the city Department of Planning and Engineering Services, who was interviewed for the Tracy Press article on the banners. Mr. Claar clarified to me that the $30,000 used in the article was in fact the $30,000 that the City Council had previously earmarked as part of the city’s “branding” program. Some of the smaller light pole banners that would be printed to advertise the city of Tracy as part of the overall branding concept would come from some of that $30,000, as well as the labor to hang the banners and take them down as needed.
The banners that I proposed were banners that would be hung across 11th Street and other strategic locations to advertise city events were intended to be paid for by the local organization (such as the Chamber of Commerce) that would be responsible for offsetting printing costs by soliciting their own local sponsors and supporters, which would not come from the $30,000. When the city advertises an event like the airport open house, then the city would be responsible for printing its own banners, and that cost may come from a portion of the $30,000.
I hope this clarifies to those concerned about the city spending monies frivolously on banners, that the intent of this proposal was not to increase city spending but was intended to help draw increased interest and revenue to the city when we hold annual city-wide events. I believe after talking with Mr. Claar that the city recognizes the intent and is not digging deeper into city funds; rather it is in favor of amending the current signage ordinance so we can do a better job of promoting our city and hopefully being proactive about generating more income for the city fund by incorporating it into the “branding” plan and budget already allocated for the city.
• Larry L. Hite is a Tracy resident and owner of Tracy Home Inspections. He’s past president of Tracy Rotary, active in Habitat for Humanity, chairman of Tracy Entrepreneurs and co-founder of Central Valley Business Alliance. He ran unsuccessfully for Tracy City Council this year.