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You gotta’ give it to Vice Mayor Theresa Barron, she can hang in there with the best of 'em. Take this Christmas lights thing. Barron wants the city to buy Christmas lights instead of leasing them.
Total cost to adorn light poles on US Highway 27A and U.S. Highway 19 is about $14,000. And that's just for part of the town. If she could get 100 light poles decorated, it would cost about $23,000. And they come with a three-year manufacturer's warranty. That's if the city had bought them in July.
City Attorney Norm Fugate even brought the first Christmas greetings on the lights: The City of Williston, which he also advises, said it would lend its bucket truck — gratis — to put up and remove the decorations.
The rest of the Chiefland City Commission — think of them as Grinches if you wish — went with leasing the Christmas lights for three years at $27,000 total. That's on top of the $27,000 spent in the past three years. Total for six years: $54,000.
Mayor Teal Pomeroy, who preaches fiscal penny-pinching, says he has yet to sign the new lease. I think he's waiting on the response to this column. The city should buy its decorations. I know it's a tight budget year, but fiscal conservatism tells me it's a better deal to buy the lights. If they went with the $14,000 deal and spent about $2,400 to put them up and take them down every year (I used the city's estimate of $2,000 to $3,000 made before the gift of the bucket truck), at the end of three years, they would cost about $21,000.
If finding storage between shopping seasons is a problem, the $6,000 savings should help. At the end of three years, the city owns them. In future years, if 10 to 15 percent are damaged, the city can buy more — surely for less than $9,000 per year. Of course, I'm forgetting insurance for the decorations, and other expenses that can crop up.
Pomeroy has tossed out a suggestion that folks might want to “sponsor” the lights by buying them for the city. Like the Grinch, he's getting the spirit. First one up to the plate when I mentioned it at a Chiefland Rotary Club meeting was Dr. Bob Mount who said he would pay for the one that hangs on the pole outside his office. In a city with over 400 business licenses issued to in and out-of-town businesses, surely there's support for buying the lights. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only person who sees those lights go on at dusk and thinks about shopping (in Chiefland, of course) or of the Christmas and Winter Festival sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
Oh, and am I aggravating the paper to buy a decoration? We are not flush, so I'm starting by putting in $20 for the light fund. I even have just the light pole in mind for our decoration. So, yes, there will be Christmas lights Commissioner Barron. And I think the Chiefland business community and its leaders will say yes to buying them. After this tough economic year, won't that glow make the holiday cheerful?
Lou Elliot Jones is the editor at the chiefland Citizen and can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 352-493-4796.