Conway Spends $130,000 on State's Tallest Christmas Tree

CONWAY (KATV) - A Christmas tree is supposed to symbolize the season, a season of giving. But some Faulkner County residents say their city's tree represents thousands of wasted tax payer dollars.

Christmas time is almost here and so is Conway's $130,000 reusable Christmas tree. The 54-foot tree is supposed to draw some attention but not this kind.

"I don't really believe it very wise to spend that much money on a tree," said Joanne Evatt, a longtime Conway resident.

It's the ultimate sticker shock for Evatt who can't decide which is a bigger deal a 54-foot community Christmas tree or the fact that it cost the city $130,000 of tax payer money.

"We've got more places in this town like streets that we need some work done one instead of spending that much money on a tree," she said.

Chris Baker, also a resident couldn't agree more.

"I think that the money could be used in a better way," said Baker.

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said that may be true but his hands were tied. A state law requires cities to use the Prepared Food or "Hamburger Tax" for area advertisement and promotions purposes to encourage tourism.

"Some things that add to the quality of place aren't utilitarian," he said. "How about the Statue of Liberty what utilitarian purpose does it serve?"

Townsell said it may not help the cities needy or fix up the streets but it doesn't mean the money was wasted.

"Conway is becoming a regional market for retail shopping," he said. "We think that might provide an extra little umph to the emphasis to come into Conway to shop."

And one way to do that is to have the largest street in the state and possibly the Midwest.

"One hundred and thirty thousand. That's a lot probably too much," said Baker. "At least it's reusable since they're already spending the money."

The tree will be delivered on Wednesday and ready for display on Saturday.