Tax levy trimmed further
Advertising on Scandia’s ice-skating rink boards will continue, for now.
The Scandia City Council reaffirmed its policy to sell advertising space on the rink boards last week, settling a disagreement between the city’s Parks and Recreation and Tourism committees.
The council voted 3-2 in favor of continuing to allow the advertising, with Mayor Christine Maefsky and Councilwoman Patti Ray voting against.
Originally approved in 2018, the policy allows the city to sell 35-inch by 8-foot advertising spaces on the rink boards at a rate of $200 per year or $500 for three years. The parks committee proposed the ads as a way to generate revenue for the rink, noting that similar advertising exists at the city’s lighted ballfield.
At the time, Maefsky cast the lone council vote against the policy, citing concerns about a visual clash between the commercial advertising and the village center scenery.
When the parks committee proposed giving the city’s Vinterfest partners a discount on the ads two months ago, Maefsky reiterated her concerns and urged the council to let the city’s Tourism Committee weigh in.
The Tourism Committee, which was appointed by the city in early 2020, agreed with Maefsky.
“There are lots of ways that we can promote business that don’t require putting signage in the middle of town,” Tourism Committee member Sarah Porubcansky said last week.
Maefsky argued that the city has budgeted more annual parks funding since 2018 and suggested adding the rink boards to the city’s long-term capital improvements plan.
Arguing for the ads, Councilman Jerry Cusick noted that advertising is common on hockey rink boards at nearly every level, from amateur to professional.
“If we can get a little revenue out of this advertising then I say go for it,” Cusick said.
Councilman Chris Ness agreed.
Ness noted that the advertising isn’t permanent. Advertisers sign annual, or three-year, contracts. The policy could always be revisited in the future, he said.
“Right now, people want to give us money. Why would we turn that down?” Ness said.
Though only a few ads have been placed since the policy was enacted, City Administrator Ken Cammilleri said last week there are a handful of new advertisers who are interested.
Tax levy cut further
Following the city’s annual Truth In Taxation budget hearing, the council directed Cammilleri to prepare a 2021 budget that will be leaner than what was proposed in September.
Under the approved plan, the city will ask for a final local levy of $2,510,824, just 3.3% more than in 2020. That amount will lower the city portion of the tax rate by 3%.
The city will use federal CARES Act funding to help offset some of its staffing costs, with roughly $460,000 contributing to the city fund balance.
“The CARES Act certainly had a positive impact on our financial position,” Cammilleri said.
The final budget resolution is set to be approved on Dec. 15.
The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.