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Leave it to our American cousins to find a way to cover the cost of e-government services without raising taxes.

The Salt Lake City municipal government hired – a Columbus, Ohio-based advertising agency – to search for advertisers and display their ads on the city’s Web site, a move that has raised the ire of local newspapers and some taxpayers.

Mayor Rocky Anderson has defended the City’s actions as being a viable alternative to raising taxes to recoup the cost of offering municipal government services on-line. Salt Lake City expects to find up to eight companies willing to each pay US$4,000 per month. Of that revenue, 40 per cent is earmarked for while the remainder will go directly into the cost of running and improving the city’s Web site.

Other notable clients of include the City of Honolulu and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Government of the State of Virginia is reportedly mulling over services too.

The deal Salt Lake City cut with can potentially earn that municipal government about US$32,000 each month.