Brewer News

Brewer councilors approve spending $455,000 for Cross Insurance Center marketing deal

BREWER, Maine — City leaders approved a seven-year, $455,000 marketing agreement with Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday after hearing only support from residents and business owners. Even so, the vote was not unanimous.

Councilor Arthur “Archie” Verow said the pricetag for the marketing deal with Pennsylvania-based Global Spectrum, operator of the new arena in Bangor that is set to open next fall, is why he voted against the proposal.

“Maybe you call it sticker shock,” he told fellow councilors before the 4-1 vote.

“To tie up $455,000 of our TIF funds is not, in my opinion, a prudent or necessary undertaking.”

D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director, kicked off the meeting by explaining how the city’s economic development office — supported entirely by tax increment financing, or TIF, dollars — has not been spending its marketing dollars in recent years because of the downtrodden economy, and therefore has a surplus of unused marketing funds sitting in the bank.

“That was not the time to spend money,” she said. “Now that the economy is slowing turning — this is the opportunity we were waiting for.”

Verow suggested that the money be used to add electricity to Dirigo Drive, but was informed by Finance Director Karen Fussell that it’s not easy to spend designated TIF funds because the state’s Department of Economic Development has strict rules regarding how they can be used and would have to approve any projects.

The marketing deal, which breaks down to an annual payment of $65,000, would provide the city with an incredible amount of advertising at the new $65 million facility across the river, Main-Boyington said.

Global Spectrum is a private management firm and subsidiary of cable and Internet giant Comcast that already has an international network, she said. The marketing deal includes naming one conference room, advertising at the entrance, in the hallways, in the arena and on all outgoing correspondences, as well as free use of the facility when its available, Main-Boyington said.

Brewer is the first group to sign up for the founding partners marketing plan, which is the same deal offered to businesses in the region, Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow said last week.

Mayor Kevin O’Connell, who described the new arena as “phenomenal” read a letter from Bangor City Council Chairman Nelson Durgin during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We are grateful the city of Brewer has reached out in this way,” he said, reading the letter that said conservative estimates are that 300,000 people will visit the arena annually. “We know this facility will draw people from all over Maine and eastern Canada. We look forward to working with Brewer.”

During the meeting, councilors also:

• Heard from an Ellsworth man who was upset about being questioned by police in December 2011 at a basketball game and the lack of subsequent communication with police officials over the last year. O’Connell apologized to the man and City Manager Steve Bost collected paperwork from him after the meeting in an effort to rectify his problem.

• Ratified a 3 percent raise for patrol and command officers within the police department that is retroactive to January 2012.

“It’s a one-year contract that ends at the end of the month,” Public Safety Director Perry Antone said after the meeting. “Then we start again.”

A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Nok-Noi Ricker