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.