The Hyattsville City Council is set to consider a new, slightly larger contract with the Hyattsville Life & Times to distribute 12 editions of the city newsletter over the next year.
"I recognized that this is a consistently controversial matter; however, I feel strongly that if we are going to continue to mail two print copies of a newsletter each month, this represents the only practical way to accomplish that goal," wrote City Treasurer and Acting City Administrator Elaine Stookey in a memo to city council regarding the contract.
The city distributes 24 editions of the newsletter every year. Of those, 12 are printed and distributed in the centerfold of the monthly edition of the Hyattsville Life &Times, which is mailed to every address in the city.
Under the new contract that would cost $2,200 per issue, or $26,400 per year, up 4.5 percent over last year.
Stookey said that buying the insert is far less expensive than producing all 24 newsletters in-house.
Stookey also praised the design work performed by the staff at the Hyattsville Life & Times.
"Their designer is quick, and produces error-free drafts on the first go-round," wrote Stookey. "Supplying text only cuts the staff time required to produce an email by more than half."
The city has considered distributing its newsletter through the The Gazette, but that paper was unable to meet the home delivery requirement.
And while the city's digital footprint has increased over the past few years, Stookey wrote that "concerns about residents willingness to access information electronically persist."
Stookey said that the advertising in the Hyattsville Life & Times has been effective in getting word out about city events.
Stookey's memo revealed that the city has a "gentleman's agreement" whereby advertising for city events or services are not placed on pages containing controversial articles about municipal business.
"Certainly some of the editorial content can be jarring – it is a community paper, and it represents a broad spectrum of community ideas," wrote Stookey. "I think our residents are sophisticated enough to recognized that this is the case."
The city council meets on Monday, Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Hyattsville Municipal Building on Gallatin Street.