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City creates flower fund

In an effort to save a few dollars in its shrinking municipal budget, the City of New Richmond is seeking partners to keep the community looking pretty.

Support letters have gone out to businesses and individuals who might be interested in donating to a new flower fund for the downtown district.

The city currently plants and maintains 26 hanging baskets and nine planters throughout the growing season. The city budgets about $4,200 a year for the flowers, and the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce kicks in $1,200 a year to support the hanging baskets.

"The goal is to keep the flowers in the downtown even with budget cuts," said Joe Kerlin, parks and recreation director for the city. "City departments are challenged with decreasing budgets but not decreasing services."

The downtown flowers have always been a popular amenity in the city, Kerlin said, and he hopes that translates into financial support from several donors.

"The flowers are, by far, one of our most complimented items in the parks, along with the work Kathy Frank has done with them," Kerlin said. "I do believe that it is a high expectation to keep flowers in our downtown."

City staff surveyed 11 neighboring communities to find out how they handle their flower budgets. Some communities seek monetary donations to support planting while others conduct special fundraisers. Other flower programs are handled completely by chambers or businesses.

New Richmond decided to establish a sponsorship program this year to help cover some of the cost of flowers and their maintenance.

An individual or business that wants to sponsor a downtown hanging basket is being asked to donate $105. To sponsor half a basket, the donation is $55.

In a letter to community members, Mayor Fred Horne urges people to help out if they can.

"The downtown flower baskets and planters are a great part of downtown New Richmond," he wrote. "They are a welcoming part of our community. I have been told that it leaves visitors and residents alike with a warm feeling, thinking New Richmond is special."

Horne said the new flower program is an opportunity for residents to step up and do their part in beautifying the community.

He said when citizens and business owners get involved in such efforts, there is an increased sense of pride that develops.

"It is my hope that the citizens and businesses of New Richmond will respond with sponsorships," he wrote.