At the request of the mayor, town commissioners have agreed to replace at least some of Swansboro’s Christmas decorations.
“I’ve been asking for Christmas lights all four years I’ve been in office,” Mayor John Davis said when he opened discussion on decorations at the Sept. 13 meeting of the commissioners. The meeting took place virtually due to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Commissioners gathered by way of the Zoom platform.
In a presentation, Chris Seaberg, town manager, said the town has received $6,943.78 in donations specific to the improvement of the Christmas lights placed along N.C. 24.
While the town annually places about 30 decorations throughout the town, about 20 of them are in need of replacing.
“With that said, we plan to start a replacement program using the donated funds as the seed,” Seaberg said. The cost of each decoration is estimated to be $1,000.
Under his proposal, the current, inefficient, incandescent bulb-style decorations will be replaced with decorations using LED bulbs. He suggested spending $7,000 a year so that the replacement process would be complete over a three-year period. And, he added, “If there is a desire to add to the inventory, that could be done also.” Additional decorations would result in additional expense for power pole modifications.
“How quickly could you get the lights?” Davis asked.
Seaberg replied, “That is the question that would have to be answered by the vendor. There is only one vendor.” But, he added, the vendor, if staffed, “Is pretty quick on the turnaround.”
Also in reply to Davis, Seaberg said the town plans to have the decorations installed before the town’s “Candlelight Shopping” event, which usually takes place in November.
As he opened the floor for comment, Davis suggested the town match the $7,000 in order to replace more of the substandard decorations.
“I’m wiling to spend the money … but let’s not do this again,” Commissioner Frank Tursi said, adding that funds should be set aside annually to ensure replacement of the decorations is properly funded. “Let’s replace these lights as we need to.”
Commissioner Laurent Meilleur was also supportive of matching the $7,000 donation, but like Tursi he urged commissioners to plan for the expense.
“The whole idea of depreciation … is something the town really needs to adopt,” Meilleur said.
Commissioner P.J. Pugliese said replacing the decorations would add to the “beautification of Swansboro.”
“I’m willing to match the donation,” he said.
“Christmastime in Swansboro is a very special time,” Commissioner Larry Philpott said in lending his support to the idea of a match.
Commissioner Pat Turner also supported the match and supported the idea of creating a budget item to allow for the expense of decoration replacement.
Davis then put forth the idea of setting aside more town funds, beyond the $7,000, as a match for private donations, up to a total $12,000.
“I like the idea of matching up to $12,000,” Pugliese said. “That would be a good incentive.”
The proposal was approved unanimously.
Email Jimmy Williams at jimmy at tidelandnews.com.