Tonganoxie — No one on the Tonganoxie City Council can be accused of being a Scrooge.
During a recent meeting, council members unanimously voted to spend up to $5,144 on an artificial Christmas tree for downtown.
"Yeah, it is an expense, but it's something that's going to last us a long time," Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal said. "Plus it will get people downtown and get them into the holiday spirit."
The 18-foot tree will come with 624 colored LED bulbs already attached.
The price of the tree itself was quoted at $4,069, with an additional $725 for 625 replacement LED bulbs and $350 for shipping.
Marjorie Medley, an account representative for Display Sales, who quoted the tree's price for the city, said she was not sure of the tree's life expectancy. But she did say it would have a longer life if it were properly stored when not in use.
The tree, she noted, has room to grow. It comes in sections, and additional sections can be added to increase its height to 24 feet, 30 feet or a maximum of 40 feet.
Lyn Walther, owner of Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm in Lawrence, wasn't sure about the city's purchase.
"For years there was a lot of lead in those trees, and when they caught fire they were toxic," Walther said.
Walther also mentioned that real trees were a renewable resource and the creation of artificial trees uses nonrenewable resources.
"It's a lot easier to grow more real trees than it is to get more oil," she said.
She did note that artificial trees don't need to be watered, and an 18-foot tree would be hard to find in the area because most tree farmers keep their trees under 10 feet.
Walther wasn't sure exactly how much, but said the cost of shipping could significantly increase the cost of a real tree. Her trees cost $7 per foot.
Vestal is banking on the tree helping make the downtown more attractive during the holidays.
"I know it's going to be a heck of an expense, but I think it will pay for itself," he said.
This will be the first year the mayor will have the tree lighting downtown. The lighting ceremony previously had been at the VFW. This year's tree-lighting ceremony is slated for Nov. 29.