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City auto renewal ads: Be thankful for them
In the past, it has cost the City of Manchester about $30,000 a year to mail vehicle registration renewal notices to residents. This year, and for each of the next two years, it is expected to cost only about $5,000. And yet some people are complaining about this — or rather, how the city wound up reducing those costs.
Earlier this year, Brenda Masewic-Adams in the city tax collector’s office and Tony Schaffer in the information technology department suggested that the city place advertisements inside the renewal notice mailings. Their idea won them $750. It won the city a $75,000 contract — $25,000 a year for three years — with AutoFair.
The car dealer bears almost the full cost of the mailings in exchange for getting an ad placed inside them. The first AutoFair flyer advertises its inspection service and offers an oil change discount for customers who get their inspections done at the dealership, our city hall reporter Ted Siefer reported on Sunday. He also reported that this has some residents upset.
Taxpayers should be pleased rather than upset. The $75,000 AutoFair pays for those mailings over three years might not sound like a lot in the context of a city budget, but it represents the entire property tax bill of 17 Manchester homes valued at $200,000. It is one small way to reduce the pressure to raise taxes in a city where residential property values fell by about 18 percent between the last two assessments. Overall, the city lost $1.5 billion in property value.
With the imposition of the spending-and-tax cap, it was smart to look for voluntary sources of revenue to make up for some of the loss because of property devaluation. Far from deserving scorn, the AutoFair ads ought to be replicated elsewhere. The city already sells ad space on its buses and at athletic facilities. If more partnerships like these can be formed, they will further reduce the burden on the taxpayers, which is a good thing.
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