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Monte flower baskets may be discontinued

Courtesy city of Montesano Montesano’s dual hanging baskets may be in danger of going away because of budget cuts.
Courtesy city of Montesano Montesano’s dual hanging baskets may be in danger of going away because of budget cuts.

MONTESANO — The Montesano Chamber of Commerce says they can no longer afford to go it alone in paying for the city’s signature dual hanging flower baskets throughout the downtown area. They’re now looking for monetary donations from the public and local businesses. And, the biggest question, Chamber President Dennis Brumbaugh wonders, is if anyone actually cares about the flowers.

“We need to know if people like seeing the flowers and, if they do, if they’d be willing to support us,” Brumbaugh said.

The Chamber started paying for the baskets and the care two years ago when the city of Montesano discontinued the service.

Montesano Mayor Ken Estes said that the city couldn’t afford the expense because it proved too costly for the city, too. Estes said that they were forced to pay for the overtime of public works employees.

Because the Chamber didn’t have to pay overtime to city employees, and saw the flowers as a benefit, Brumbaugh said he and his board took on the task. Over the past two years, the chamber has spent $6,000 out of its own funds on the task.

“We need to try to put our money somewhere else rather than to beautify the city,” Brumbaugh said.

That might sound like a lot of money for flowers, Brumbaugh admits, but he says the costs were for about 38 baskets, plus several hundred dollars to make sure they were watered throughout the summer. Last year, the good weather meant that the watering kept going until October.

The baskets are crafted by the Wynoochee Windmill Farm. The city loves the flowers so much that, the city website features a picture of them as a “digital postcard” residents can send visitors.

Brumbaugh said there is some urgency here to get the flowers done. The growers need the orders in the next few weeks.

“They do a lot of tender loving care into making the baskets and get them to us right after Mother’s Day for us to put up,” Brumbaugh said.

One idea that City Administrator Kristy Powell was looking into is whether the city can tap into its tourism tax funds to help pay for the flowers. The tax is generated by people staying in local motels. Other cities on the Harbor have tapped the fund for holiday decorations.

“That’s an avenue we’ll need to look into,” Powell said.

Meantime, those interested in helping the Chamber can call (360) 249-5522 or contact Brumbaugh at P.O. Box 688, Montesano, WA 98563.