Poll finds most Philadelphians want ads over taxes

A new survey says a majority of Philadelphians support putting advertising on city buildings.

The survey by the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that, overall, city residents are concerned about their tax burden. More than half say they would rather put ads on city buildings than raise their taxes.

City Council President Darrell Clarke proposed the idea in 2011 and again this year. He says it could raise $10 million a year.

“The legislation we’ve crafted and the conversation we are having with the administration is, one, to maximize our opportunity to raise revenue,” Clarke said. “Two, we clearly want to make sure we have certain criteria established with the content of this particular advertisement, the location where it’s prudent and where it’s not prudent.”

Location and content are two top concerns of SCRUB, the Society Created To Reduce Urban Blight. SCRUB attorney Stephanie Kindt says the poll question should have been accompanied with pictures of what ads on city buildings would look like.

“The idea of a Risque Video ad or a casino ad on City Hall visually, folks might have reacted differently,” she said.

Clarke said any ads will be tasteful, and won’t necessarily hang from the side of City Hall.

“I say to most people in the city of Philadelphia, ‘The next time a SEPTA bus rides by you, look at it.’ Most likely … it has some kind of an advertisement. You haven’t heard a peep about people complaining about SEPTA buses.”

A hearing on the proposal is expected within the next month or so. SCRUB representatives say they will be there to oppose the measure.

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