Fireworks funding passes by one vote
May 23, 2021
"Fireworks are expensive and getting harder and harder to find," said Jesse Kline. He spoke to the Alva Tourism Committee Wednesday to ask for tourism tax funds for the Alva Rotary Club 4th of July Spectacular. Kline said so far the company they work with has been able to obtain fireworks and keep the price close to previous years.
Last year due to Covid-19, the event was scaled back to fireworks only and held at the Alva Recreation Complex (ARC). There are plenty of places to park and watch from cars at the ARC and the nearby county fairgrounds.
The pandemic also had an impact on the Rotary Club membership. Since they were unable to meet for many months, their membership is down in numbers which means fewer volunteers for an all-day celebration. Kline said they believe going to the ARC is the best option again this year.
He said they may have a food and drink area there, possibly have some popcorn and snow cones. He said Kids and Cops are discussing holding a fishing derby at Hatfield Park for the kids.
The Rotary request for $12,500 would all be spent on fireworks, he said, although it would not pay for the entire fireworks display.
Tourism Committee Chairman Norville Ritter said he heard some good comments last year about the fireworks at the ARC. Kline said it was great for watching the show, but the location is hard on the fireworks crew. There's no relief from the heat as they install and test the installation. Kline said the Rotary still needs to contact the ARC to make sure the location is available on the 4th.
"I feel like $12,000, it's just a lot of money out of our budget for 30 minutes," said Terri Parsons. She said she didn't think the event qualifies by tourism criteria, especially with fireworks only. The event was not putting anybody in motels.
Ritter said before tourism tax, the city used to help fund the event. "$12,500 can fund a lot of things," added Parsons. Connor Martin commented, "I think it's a casualty of Covid."
Kline said the Rotary could cut back on the amount of fireworks although they've already reserved their order with the company.
Melinda Barton said, "I just don't want them (Rotary) to lose their momentum."
"I feel like it's a thing for Alva, and Alva should fund it," Parsons said.
Barton said she didn't want to make it hard for Rotary to move forward. If the committee reduced the funding, she asked, how much did Parsons think was appropriate? Parsons suggested 25 percent.
Kline said, "This can be any size show. We can scale it." He agreed that it was too easy to come to the tourism meeting for their funding, although they continue to ask businesses and the public for donations. This year, he said, manpower was their most difficult problem.
Martin made a motion to approve the $12,500 request with Barton seconding. Martin, Barton and Ritter voted yes. Dr. Charles Tucker abstained, and Parsons voted no. The motion carried 3-2.
Before discussing the Rotary funding request, the committee discussed the financial report for April. Alva Chamber Director Jodie Bradford said taking into account funds that are already encumbered for coming events, tourism has $414,483.04 left in their bank account. The financial report was approved.
During the discussion, City Business Manager Angelica Brady passed out a proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. She said it's much the same as this year's budget which was $155,000.
Year to date, the committee has spent $95,000. Brady said revenue over the last ten months averages $7,000. "You guys have worked very well to stay within the budget," she said.
Next year may be different, but adjustments can be made to the budget during the year. Budget changes must go to the city council for approval.
Because the proposed budget was not on the agenda, no vote could be taken to approve it. A special meeting is expected to be scheduled in early June for that purpose.
After the decision on the Rotary 4th of July event, the committee members voted to go into executive session to discuss a pending investigation and possible litigation related to the Alva Tourism Tax Committee. No action was planned on return to open session.