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Lathrop rejects two billboard proposals
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LATHROP – It’s kind of hard to say “no, thank you” to a contract that would put a minimum of $75,000 annually into the City of Lathrop’s coffers.

But when the city council agreed to put out a request for proposal for a digital billboard to advertise to the traffic-heavy corner of Interstate 5 and Highway 120, there were specific things that they were looking for – from a company that would provide advertising discounts to local businesses to a slice of the profits generated from overall ad sales.

Most of all they were looking for a complete proposal.

And on Monday, “no, thank you” is exactly what the two companies that responded to the bid request – advertising giant CBS Outdoor and smaller Southern California firm Bulletin Displays – got from the council after a staff report outlined how not only were some discussed conditions not met, but technical aspects such as the physical placement of the billboard within the storm basin where it will be located.

Interest in installing a digital billboard has been a discussion in Lathrop for five years, and with the amount of traffic that passes by the Highway 120/I-5 interchange daily, signing the right contact could end up yielding a pretty penny for the city.

Placement, however, is everything.

With the technical specifics of the RFPs – the request for proposals – falling short on the only two proposals that the city received, the council voted to deny both and send them back to the companies to be revised and then possibly resubmitted.

Ultimately the decision to add the digital billboard will be a financial one – the land that it will be placed on is already owned by the City of Lathrop and the annual lease fee paid by the company will ultimately be free money. CBS Outdoors, which has a firm hold on most of the outdoor advertising in Northern California, is proposing to pay $75,000-a-year in rent with a $75,000 signing bonus. Profit sharing and small business discounts would be out, but the money up front would be significantly more than what Bulletin Displays is willing to provide for annual rent – submitting a proposal for only $9,000 without a clause to take down the existing billboard that sits in that location.

That number with Bulletin Displays would rise to $18,000 annually thanks to a profit sharing agreement, and a 10 percent discount would be available for all small businesses. Community advertising would also be on the table in an “as available” capacity.

Additional requests and a staff report is expected before the council by the end of the year.