Ads OK'd on city property; trash trucks first in line?

Caption: A photo illustration depicts hypothetical advertising on a garbage truck. Credit: Philadelphia City Council
Caption: A photo illustration depicts hypothetical advertising on a garbage truck. Credit: Philadelphia City Council
Posted: May 04, 2013

 Philadelphia City Council passed a bill Thursday to allow advertising on municipal property - an idea championed by President Darrell L. Clarke to raise money without hiking taxes.

The bill is just the first step, giving zoning permission and setting up a task force that would explore which buildings and other property would be appropriate for advertising and what kinds would be allowed.

Ultimately, Mayor Nutter would have to sign a contract with a vendor that would seek and manage advertising.

"At the end of the day, it's up to the administration to implement this particular program," Clarke said.

Clarke first proposed selling ads on city property about a year and a half ago. He has been complaining in recent weeks that Nutter was dragging his feet - a request for proposals from vendors was issued last year but scrapped.

Officials said in a hearing last month that they have to dig deeper into an issue related to buildings constructed or renovated using municipal bonds. Generating a certain amount of advertising revenue on those buildings could cost the city in tax penalties, Solicitor Shelley Smith said.

Clarke said Thursday that he heard "informally" the administration was going to issue a request for proposals in the next few weeks to place advertising on city vehicles - most likely trash trucks. Advertising on city vehicles most likely would not have the same tax concerns, he said.

"If we can get up and running relatively soon, I think that's something we need to do," Clarke said. "I'd love to see these trash trucks with trash bag [ads] on them."

Clarke said SEPTA generated $21 million in the last fiscal year from advertising on buses, trains, and other property, and he hoped the city could "come close to that particular number."

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, confirmed that the administration was "working toward" a request for proposals on vehicle advertising, "but we don't have a timeline set yet." On Clarke's bill, McDonald said the mayor has two weeks to decide his position.

The bill passed, 15-0. Councilman Bill Green abstained due to a possible conflict, and Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco was absent.


Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730, tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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