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City Council: Advertising on City Websites Could Boost Revenue

Councilor Consalvo called it an 'outside-the-box' way to increase revenue without raising taxes or fees.

Businesses should have advertising space on city websites as a way to boost revenue, said City Councilor Robert Consalvo during Wednesday's regular meeting.

"We're [allowing advertising] already," he said. "This would expand it."

The city permits ads on Boston's buses and trains, and the state is on board with programs like Adopt-a-Highway, which works with corporate sponsorships. In 10 to 15 years, it will become the norm as more of our lives move online, he said, and pointed to other major cities, such as Chicago, that have started to embrace the idea already.

"It's not like we're reinventing the wheel," he said. "This is being done in other cities."

The city manages seven websites, which saw a total of more than 15 million visitors last year. Cityofboston.gov and bostonpublicschools.org were the most popular, with 7 million and 5 million, he said.

Conslavo called those numbers "extremely attractive" to advertisers, saying it would be a great "outside-the-box" way to generate new revenue without raising taxes or fees.

Councilors Mark Ciommo, Bill Linehan and Mike Ross voiced their support, and the proposal was placed in a subcommittee for now.

In other news:

  • The basement of Fanueil Hall, which has been closed for about a year as work was being done, is set to open back up in the spring. The Council approved the lease of stalls in the marketplace for a five-year term, begining May 1, 2012.
  • The Elizabeth Peabody Bookstore and Circulating Library at 13-15 West Street was designated a landmark per the recommendation of the Boston Landmarks Commission. 
  • The Council accepted a $75,000 grant from NSTAR for the City's Renew Boston program, which supports energy efficiency and alternative energy across the city. More than 650 people this year have energy assessments and upgrades to their homes through the program, and the money will be used primarily for outreach to seniors. 

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