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City Council approves policy, rates for bus advertising

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury is a step closer to having advertisements in and on its buses.

Salisbury Transit went before the City Council on Tuesday to discuss adopting an advertising policy and an ordinance to amend the budget to approve rates for advertisements on city buses.

Keystone Marketing Communications was hired to help the city develop the advertising plans.

Kevin Elwood, a representative of the company, gave the council details of the policy.

He said advertising on buses offers “heavy reach” for advertisers.

“Transit advertising takes these messages to the heart of urban areas and communities, generating exposure to riders, commuters of personal vehicles and the general community alike,” he said.

The ads do not require expensive infrastructure and have low overhead costs.

“Transit ads tend to reside among the most cost-effective forms of advertising,” Elwood said.

Elwood said the ads offer a significant return on investment and allow the transit system to tap into advertisement revenues.

It can also be a resource for the city to use for announcements and information.

“It stands to reason that what is good for the advertisers will be great for the city,” Elwood said.

The first phase of the project includes developing the policy, developing the initial advertising rates and gaining approval of the policy and rates by the council.

The advertising space would be a non-public forum and would restrict advertisement of things like alcohol products, tobacco products, adult entertainment and retail and political campaigns or issues.

The advertisements can be featured on the inside or outside of the bus, including full wraps.

Nonprofit organizations will also be able to advertise on buses at a discounted rate.

One of the cheaper rates is for a four-week 11-inch by 17-inch placard inside a minimum of two buses, with two cards per bus, for $65. One of the more expensive options is $18,000 for a full exterior wrap of at least one bus for 52 weeks.

The rates do not include the cost of design or installation.

Councilman Brian Miller asked how long a bus might be out of service to install the ads.

Elwood said interior placard ads take no time at all since they can just be slid into place. He said exterior ads can probably be done when the buses are out of service and a wrap might take one to two days.

Transit director Rodney Harrison said with the buses in rotation, installing the ads should not be a problem.

Miller also asked if they could provide information on how much revenue other cities of comparable size gained by allowing advertising on their buses. Harrison said the impact depended on what rates the city approved, but once approved he will come up with a revenue projection.

Councilman David Post said he would prefer to table the discussion to find out how they can use the advertising for Fibrant, the city’s broadband service.

“I would really like us to take the time to look at this and understand whether we can use it, what kind of a discount we can give ourselves, what we would be willing to invest in ourselves to do this before we adopt this policy,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell said the draft of the advertising policy didn’t refer to Fibrant and did not think the item should be tabled.

She later said she did think the implications of the ads for Fibrant should be looked into further and that the policy is amendable.

The council voted 4-1 to approve both the policy and the ordinance to amend the budget to approve the advertising rates, with Post voting against both motions.

In other business, the council:

  • Recognized the historic preservation efforts of Doug Black.
  • Recognized Livingstone College foreign exchange students from India, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.
  • Recognized Salisbury Transit for receiving the first place North Carolina Department of Transportation Performance Excellence Award.
  • Approved the consent agenda, which included:
    • Adoption of an ordinance amending the city code to designate two handicap parking spaces on the west side of the 400 block of North Main Street and two spaces in the 500 block of North Main Street.
    • Adoption of a $8,554 budget ordinance amendment to the fiscal year 2016-17 budget to appropriate insurance proceeds received for damage to the city’s tower site.
    • Approval of the revised System Safety Review Program and Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy for the Salisbury Transit System.
  • Heard a presentation on economic development strategies from Downtown Salisbury, Inc.
  • Heard public comment. Robert Van Geons, executive director of Rowan Works, presented information that he was unable to provide during his presentation at the last council meeting about how many people work in Salisbury and Rowan County per day, how many people stay in the city and county to work and how many leave the city and county to work.
    Carolyn Logan said students who attended the last meeting were made to feel unwelcome. She also said a plan should be developed to deal with the crime in the city.
    A woman spoke about her frustrations with the court system and the Police Department in handling situations that have happened to her, including a robbery.
    Peace Allah said a way to help the economy and lower crime is to deal with stress and financial debt in the community.
  • Heard comments from City Manager Lane Bailey about the purchase of a property at 310 Cedar Springs Road for the future site of Fire Station 6. The council approved the purchase of the parcel of land, which costs $154,728. Bailey said the station would not be built in this fiscal year. The funds would come from the fund balance initially, and then would be part of a debt package as the station is developed.
  • A general fund capital improvement program work session has been rescheduled for Nov. 18 at 12 p.m.
  • Went into closed session to talk about an economic development matter.

The mayor proclaimed Oct. 8-9, 2016 as OctoberTour Days and Oct. 9-15, 2016 as Fire Prevention week.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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