Commercial sponsorships of county facilities, programs considered as revenue source

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HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A County Council bill being considered would allow businesses to sponsor scoreboards, such as this one at Gilbert Carvalho Park, and other county structures to generate additional revenue.
Sue Lee Loy

A Hawaii County Council member is proposing commercial sponsorships as another means to raise revenue.

Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said her intent is to give the county another option as it likely faces tough decisions about making cuts or raising taxes going into the next budget cycle.

“It’s a framework that hopefully will give us another tool in our tool belt,” she said.

Under her bill, which could be heard by the Finance Committee as early as March 13, individuals or entities that contribute at least $20,000 to a county facility or program would be recognized through a display or press releases and promotional material.

Lee Loy, whose district includes parts of Hilo and Keaau, said examples could be a business sponsoring a scoreboard at a ball field or a roof for the arena at the Panaewa Equestrian Center.

Naming of facilities would be excluded. Sponsorships would be denied if they promote discrimination or if the person has a pending application or legal proceeding with the county.

Promotion of alcohol or drugs and political campaigns also would be prohibited.

“If our community partners want to help, we should afford them an opportunity to help,” Lee Loy said.

She said county departments would have discretion as to whether to enter into a sponsorship agreement, which would require County Council approval.

Roxcie Waltjen, director of the county Parks and Recreation Department, said Tuesday that she was still reviewing the bill, but doesn’t think sponsorships would detract from the intended use of the facilities.

“I don’t have any concerns at this point,” Waltjen said.

“I think I need a little bit more time to look at this and look at all sides,” she added.

The bill would take effect July 1, 2019.

The City and County of Honolulu has a similar sponsorship ordinance.

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