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Al Alborn

Here’s a way to increase revenue for Prince William County’s government and school system without raising taxes on businesses and our property and requiring no changes to the strategic or comprehensive plan.  

This does not involve creating new “economic opportunities,” such as data centers, shopping centers, new homes or other things that significantly change the character of the county (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Further, it creates this revenue by monetizing county assets taxpayers paid for in a new and creative way.

I suggest the Prince William government start selling naming rights and advertising, too, on the assets it owns.

Our economic development strategy is designed to attract businesses to Prince William to increase our tax revenue base. This idea attracts the names of businesses, too, and those already within Prince William to accomplish the same goal. While I’m not discouraging the former, I’m guessing we would actually generate more revenue for less energy by focusing on the latter. Money spent on advertising is a business expense and is tax-deductible.

If Jiffy Lube Live can do it, why can’t we? Why not sell naming rights to public buildings for a year at a time (with options to renew) to commercial entities?

Why not sell advertising on public property? Billboards outside; wall displays inside.

Why not allow companies to sponsor events? “This board meeting is brought to you by ‘sparky cola,’ the drink that refreshes!”

Dale Boulevard might become Verizon Boulevard. Verizon would happily pay to make sure it always looks nice since it has their name on it – reducing our costs even further.  Why not sell blazers to our Board of County Supervisors members with advertising like race car drivers wear?  OK, that might be over the top (or is it?).

The history of government is one long never-ending scheme to figure out how to think of new ways to generate revenue from everyone and everything within its domain in as many ways as possible. Maybe generating revenue using the assets the government owns is what’s next.

Government sucks money out of our pockets that would have been spent at our discretion at local small businesses, charities, restaurants, shops, grocery stores and the like. If Prince William government were to sell naming rights and advertising to local and national businesses, money that would otherwise have gone to taxes and fees would remain in our pockets and the local economy. It would be ours to spend as we chose.

If you enjoy paying taxes and look forward to paying more of them, you shouldn’t support this idea. On the other hand, if you would like businesses to help pay for the Prince William government and its school system, at least think about naming rights.

See what the market is for selling the name of what we now call the McCoart Administration Center, the Development Services Building, the Sean Connaughton Plaza, the Kathleen Seefeldt Parkway. We can work those old names into the new “brand.” Try selling signs on the back of county vehicles. Sell rolling advertising on the flat screen TVs at government buildings between events.

Some will dismiss this; some will laugh; some will ignore it. All we need is one person who thinks letting businesses pay for the government instead of “us” is a good idea. 

I think I’ll bid on naming the board meeting room. I like the ring of “Al’s Place.” I would specify a reserved seat with my name on it in the front row as part of the deal. For the right price, Prince William County should welcome my money.

Al Alborn is an award-winning columnist and member of the Virginia Press Association. His column appears every other week. You can learn more about Al on LinkedIn.


(9) comments

Popular Misconception

I can't tell if this is a joke or not. In any case, what could possibly go wrong with big business money getting directly mingled with publicly owned assets?

Dan Maillard

The sad thing is the inevitability of this very thing. The reality is, local government members, have no dedication to fiscal responsibility, and seemingly only spend beyond actual means. And we see, this year, even being in a surplus, the all out avoidance know...give it back to the payers. Instead, we bonused government employees.

This model works, generally, and there actually should be some actual limited naming rights on major buildings, spaces, facilities - roads are a bit too much (unless they are major stretches easily accommodated). But reading the comments, it is clear folks would just rather have their personal taxes raised. Yes, that is going to happen, when you outright reject the realities that NoVA is geographically a national hub, and PWC will not be sparred in space/business expansion. There is a REASON why Amazon, MICRON, etc...want to be is called distribution expanse. There is a reason our governor is going to great lengths to attract major businesses (and has been successful with Boeing and a California based investment firm). More is coming folks. The Commanders will come too.

Fix Prince William

Al Alborn has posted some great stuff on here, but this DOES sound like satire. Can't you just imagine turning on the Parkway and it saying in big neon letters "Chic-fil-A" Parkway. Oh, and there's Coca-Cola High School. I live on Vulcan Building Materials Way.

Angie Mac

Who is going to pay for all the bew street signs? Changes to the CAD system and mapbooks for 1st responders?????

Fix Prince William

How about we STOP paving every green piece of land and throwing up townhouses. Then we won't have to increase our tax base!

Sign Ann Wheeler out of office!

John Dutko

Soon we will be like Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash...

Tom Manson

Delivering pizzas and living virtually?

Ed Moseley

Brilliant! This sounds like satire, but anything which might reduce our taxes is ok with me.

Tom Manson

This is a terrible idea. The privatization of roads and buildings, even with naming rights, needs to stop. We are surrounded, no immersed in advertising, day in and out, on most surfaces and speakers and screens. Stop it.

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