City to aid flowers and lights funds

    The City of Decatur is making a commitment to shore up both the downtown flower and Christmas lighting funds headed by the Chamber of Commerce.
    At Wednesday night's city council meeting — the first of the new year and a day later than usual due to New Year's Day falling on a Tuesday — it was decided that the city will provide up to $2,500 in matching funds for each program.
    The idea had been briefly touched upon at previous meetings, but last night the commitment was finalized.
    Mayor John Schultz initiated the discussion, saying, "I think the city is stepping forward with a good plan that will help the Chamber and also our city." He proposed the matching funds idea. Council strongly supported the proposal and, after some discussion, Councilman Bill Crone moved to offer up to $2,500 in matches for each program.
    Both motions were seconded and council unanimously approved.
    It was noted that the burden will still fall on the Chamber to raise funds and retailers to lend financial support. If no money is raised, or only small amounts are collected, then the city will be committed to matching only that amount.
    The flower fund, at last report, was a little over $2,600 in the hole, and it came out at at a recent meeting that some of the Christmas lights are in poor shape. The mayor pointed out that the lights which are strung across the downtown buildings are 15 to 20 years old.    
    The city already puts up the lights, takes them down and stores them for the Chamber.
    An earlier idea to use parking meter funds is not allowable, it was learned.
    This year's commitment will come from the mayor's funds and other sources, then be added to the budget next year.
    The mayor said at one point he would like to see some small trees to go along with the flowers, and he said that if that idea gained any ground it would be taken to Steve Krull, park and rec director and a member of the city's tree board.