Cities, Towns Cut Back, Angering Residents, Business Owners

NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — It is that time of year when all those great holiday decorations start popping up in towns all over the tri-state area.

But in some parts of New Jersey municipalities are scaling back their displays because of the economy.

It’s a case of ho-ho-no, reports CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport.

“Very disappointing, extremely disappointing,” one East Brunswick resident said.

Bright, shiny and cheerful, they are calling cards for the season displayed proudly by towns and municipalities everywhere. But in parts of New Jersey holiday decorations and festivals are being scaled back amidst tight budgets.

“Well, I think it’s a sign of the times. It’s the economy,” Denville resident Irv Lubis said.

The city of Newark has 86’d it’s annual tree lighting outside of City Hall, saying the $40,000 it cost for a crane and operator to rig up the tree is a luxury the city can’t afford.

And in East Brunswick, the town’s administrator, James White, said the annual lighting ceremony and festivities have been cancelled. They’re simply too expensive — $1,000.

“It appears I’ve become the Grinch who stole Christmas,” White said. “The budget is getting that tight now in New Jersey.”

In Denville this season, only about 38 of the town’s familiar holiday snow flake lights are on display. Last year there were 83.

Township business administrator Steven Ward said the electricity bill was just too steep.

“Last year the bill was approximately $14,000. And this year the bill will be about $4,500,” Ward said, adding it would amount to substantial savings.

But store owners Susan Banks said she worries the cuts will be bad for business.

“It could be detrimental to business, absolutely. Because not as many people may come downtown, because it’s not as pretty as it used to be,” Banks said.

It’s signs of the times this holiday season.

The city of Newark has scheduled a smaller tree lighting ceremony in it’s first floor City Hall rotunda on Dec. 13.

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