City to consider selling ads on parking garage, other city property

Cars pulling into the downtown parking garage might soon be greeted by advertisements for restaurants or law offices.
The Bozeman City Commission is considering selling commercial advertising space at Bridger Park Downtown and on other municipal properties such as baseball fields and bus shelters.

Mayor Jeff Krauss said it's a way for the city to "get creative about how to pay for the services that the public wants."

And at least one commissioner agrees.

"I think it's definitely worth trying," Commissioner Chris Mehl said.

Over the years, city officials have gone back and forth about whether to allow private ads on municipal property.

City ordinance currently allows advertising on city vehicles, equipment, solid waste containers and other property. But the ordinance is rarely used.

Some ads have been placed at parks for various events there like the Sweet Pea Festival or the Bogert Farmer's Market, according to a city memo to commissioners.

In late 2005, the commission voted to sell advertising space on city garbage trucks to help pay for the city's recycling program. But then, two months after that approval, a new commission overturned that decision.

The city's ordinance states that the city manager must approve all ads before they go up.

And, ads for political candidates, alcohol, tobacco, contraception, services with "sexual overtones," or "hygiene products of an intimate, personal nature," are forbidden.

Ads are also exempt from the city's sign code, according to the ordinance.

City Parking Commission members are proposing that the city contract with a private company to sell, install and maintain advertising at the garage, located on Mendenhall Street between North Black and Tracy avenues.

Ads would be placed on the interior walls as well as in the stairwells and elevators.

The parking commission estimates the city could initially make $4,000 a year off the ad space.

"Hopefully it will grow from there," said parking manager Paul Burns.

The parking garage, which opened a year and a half ago, is making money.

The garage made $40,499 in the past year, with $109,694 in revenues and $69,195 in expenses, according to Burns.

However, the city recently extended the amount of time drivers can park in the garage for free in an effort to make it more competitive with other downtown parking options.
city of Bozeman
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