Council denies DDA’s funding increase request

‘This is just way too much money to be spending on something like this.’ — Councilman Lawrence Stec

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – A Christmas marketing campaign for local businesses proposed by the city’s Downtown Development Authority has been halted by the City Council.

The council on Monday unanimously denied the authority’s request to transfer $32,000 from its fund balance to begin the campaign, citing the cost and questioning the DDA’s role in such an activity.

At the Oct. 14 DDA meeting, authority Chairman Tony Trupiano suggested that a holiday marketing campaign would be a positive way to generate foot traffic to stores during the holiday shopping period. Partnering with the Wyandotte Business Association and producing a commercial to shop locally also were discussed.

DDA Director Brandon Wescott said at the time that he had met with a representative from WMGC-FM to discuss potential holiday marketing campaigns. Options would include live on-air personality endorsements by disc jockey Jim Harper; an on-air personality appearance with the Magic 105.1 street team; promotional mentions, along with games and prizes; a targeted e-mail blast; a mention on the station’s Web site; and different types of on-air commercials.

The highest-level package discussed would cost $10,000, with live, on-site station appearances. On-air packages without on-site visit options ran from $5,100 to $6,900.

At the Nov. 11 DDA meeting, Trupiano presented a Christmas marketing campaign to the board for discussion. Members expressed concern over generating more foot traffic downtown, as well as retaining current businesses. They also noted that a Christmas marketing campaign had not been discussed during the authority’s budget workshop process.

After additional discussion, board member Gerry Lucas moved to fund a Christmas campaign with $32,000 from the DDA fund balance. The proposal would have allotted $10,000 for local cable television advertising and $10,000 for the radio station.
The motion passed 4-3, with Greg Gilbert, Patrick VanDeHey and Norm Walker voting against and Trupiano, Lucas, Patt Slack and Gilbert Rose voting in favor.

Wescott then was charged with taking the request to the next regularly scheduled council meeting.

Councilman Lawrence Stec expressed concern Monday about the dollar amount of the advertising spending request.

“I view $32,000 as an advertising expense just to be not a bit, but all the way pretty far out there,” he said, adding that it was “pretty extreme.”

“This is just way too much money to be spending on something like this,” he said.

Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby-Fricke agreed, noting the “really close” vote.

“I think they have their hearts in the right place,” she said, “but when you look at the dollars spent … I don’t find spending $32,000 on advertising as part of that role.”

Sutherby-Fricke said the DDA is charged with preventing deterioration, encouraging historical preservation; authorizing acquisition of interest in real and personal property; and creating and implementing development plans in the district to promote economic growth.

“When I look at this and ask was that going to do what the job of the DDA is, I felt it was not,” she said. “So I support their effort and I’m glad that they’re thinking outside of the box and really doing what they can for the district, but I don’t think this is the dollars that should be spent on these items at this time.”

“I think the goal was to begin looking at marketing in the future, and this was an attempt at that,” Wescott said, “so what you all decide will determine its fate.”