Naperville, Out With Natural Evergreen Christmas Tree, In With Polyvinyl

OK kids, let’s take hot cocoa drinks and homemade cookies, to downtown Naperville and sing Christmas carols around the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Christmas tree. No more live Christmas tree in the heart of Naperville. It gives you a fuzzy, warm feeling doesn’t it. Maybe more fuzzy and itchy than warm.

Who’s brilliant idea was it to celebrate the season with an artificial PVC tree in lieu of Napeville’s long enjoyed tradition of a live evergreen tree, and why? Both answers are easy; 1) the Naperville Park District, and 2) to save money.

In a perfect world, the ‘life expectancy’ of an artificial tree is about eight years. The park district was able to purchase a slick 14-foot, polyvinyl tree for $3,400 using a cool 30% off coupon. Next year the district wants to purchase a 4-foot extension for about $3,200 bringing the total to $6,600 for an 18-foot tree. That equates to about $800 per year for the eight years compared to $2,000 per year for a traditional natural Christmas tree. That’s a savings of about $1,200 per year. That’s a nice savings until you realize that from that $1,200 you have to subtract the cost of erecting the fake tree and utilizing park district police. How many times have you purchased something like a swing set, with the words ‘assembly required, 5,000 easy pieces, no problem”.

Let’s be generous here and say $1,000 per year can be saved. Sounds like a good chunk of money, again until you realize the Naperville Park District’s budget is $39.6 million dollars per year. May not look like much until you write that number out…$39,600,000. That’s a lot of zeros. Getting a polyvinyl tree saves about .002% of the budget. That’s comparable to purchasing a $50,000 car and saving $100 if you get the cheap plastic floor mats that are so thin they have only one side.

There must be a better way for the Naperville Park District to save $1,000 per year rather than hoisting a polyvinyl Christmas tree upon the good folks of Naperville to gather around.

Consider this. Naperville Park District, Executive Director, Ray McGury, is the highest paid park director in the area with a base salary about $208,000 per year. If he made $207,000 per year, the good folks of Naperville could have a real Christmas tree. Would he miss the $1000 per year. It’s rather doubtful considering he gets $10,000 per year in deferred compensation, along with $7,200 in auto allowance for 2018. That’s $600 per month auto allowance. You can get a whole lot of auto for $600 per month.

McGury is hesitant to discuss his compensation. “I work for the taxpayers and their board of commissioners, so it’s not for me to comment on my performance” Apparently McGury is very modest about his accomplishments and very appreciative of the taxpayers. I wonder if McGury is appreciative enough to chip in $1,000 per year out of his own pocket, toward the purchase a real, live, 18-foot evergreen Christmas for the good folks of Naperville. Instead of calling it a ‘Christmas tree’, he could refer to it as the ‘McGury Tree’ and get a tax deduction.

Hot cocoa, home-made cookies, and a real evergreen tree in the middle of town. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Show 2 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    Typical penny wise and dollar foolish. When they have that much time to waste and money to spend they end up doing nonsensical things like this. How about selling the golf courses and gym pay off the bond debts and reduce the cost for tax payers so they can continue to live in Naperville as well as their kids who can’t afford to live here?

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    While I have no feeling about “real” or “fake” trees I do agree there is a lot that could be done with the Naperville Park District that would save Naperville property owners millions annually. First and foremost merge it into the city government, make it another department of city government instead of its own organization.

    This would eliminated all the costs related to maintaining and electing a board of commissioners, as well as eliminate the need for Executive Director (replaced with much less costly department head). It would allow for the consolidation of the Park Districts works department with the city’s Public works department, along with its communications, human resources, legal, IT, and police departments with those of the city.

    I sure that with a little more thought a lot more synergies could be identified. With all the talk of government consolidation you would think this would be a no brainer.

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