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Naming rights policy heads back to council

June 10, 2009

Wauwatosa's Community Development Committee on Tuesday reached a decision, for the third time, on the details of a proposed ordinance regarding the sale of naming rights for city property.

But the 5-3 vote on the latest version of the ordinance does not come any closer to unanimous support, one of the reasons the Common Council had referred the issue back to the committee.

Under the revised ordinance, which now goes back to the council for consideration, city staff members would conduct market research to determine appropriate pricing only after an offer is made. This would ensure staff time is not spent constantly updating pricing lists. Public Works, which has the heads of most city departments serving on its board, would handle any sales with a value less than $5,000, whereas approvals for naming rights with a value of $5,000 and more would require a majority vote of the council.

For much of the committee meeting, motions failed 4-4. The two camps could not agree on two aspects of the proposed ordinance: the dollar amount significant enough to warrant council approval and how many votes it would take to approve a naming rights sale.

The ordinance's author, Alderman Dennis McBride, pushed for a $5,000 threshold so residents would have an opportunity to comment to their elected officials about any offer with that or greater value. In addition, he argued that a naming rights sale should require approval by two-thirds of the council.

"The higher the threshold, the less the citizen input," McBride said.

Alderman Thomas Herzog did not support the latest version of the ordinance because he did not want the threshold set below $10,000. He worried the council will end up spending too much time fielding offers that could be more efficiently handled by city staff members.

Herzog also opposed a two-thirds council vote because, he said, he does not believe it falls in line with other city policies. He was joined in his opposition by Aldermen Robert Dennik and Tim Hanson.

"We can raise taxes with a simple majority, and that is more important to me than naming rights," Herzog said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Wauwatosa Common Council will consider a proposed ordinance for the sale of naming rights for city property.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 7

WHERE: City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.

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