Thursday, February 28, 2013

No fireworks in Wallingford budget — again

As published in the Record Journal on Thursday February 28, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD - Citing another difficult budget year and financial uncertainty, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. has opted not to include funding for the town’s annual July fireworks display in his proposed budget.

The town stopped including the fireworks show in the general government budget in 2009.

“The reason is because we have had very difficult budgets,” said Dickinson. With expenses increasing, he said he’d find it hard to explain “why we aren’t cutting things that are non-essential.”

“I have a hard time seeing fireworks as an essential,” he said.

Town Councilor Jason Zandri and a small group of supporters have kept the show alive since 2009 by raising funds on their own. While the general government budget has not been released,Dickinson informed Zandri during a phone call on Monday that the fireworks display would not be funded, Zandri said.

The show dates back to before the 1970s, Zandri said, and has become a tradition in town.

“Tradition gets lost over time,” Zandri said. “As soon as you stop a tradition, you lose it forever.”

Zandri, a Democrat, is challenging the longtime Republican mayor in this November’s election.

While Dickinson argues that budget issues are to blame for the lack of funding, Zandri says there is money available. He said the town is running a $1.7 million surplus and can afford the $26,656 needed for the fireworks.

Dickinson said that expenses need to be reduced and there are too many unknowns going into the spring, when the town’s budget will be put together. “I can’t be sure what’s going to happen this year,” he said. The town has reduced staff, so there is no justification in funding a non-essential event, Dickinson said.

Zandri said the mayor has also chosen not to fund municipal services for the event, which would include police, fire and public works overtime. The cost would be approximately $13,000, Zandri said.

Taking just 1 percent interest from the town’s $1.7 million surplus would generate $17,000, Zandri said, enough to fund municipal services for the event and more.

“The bottom line is the mayor simply doesn’t want this,” Zandri said.

Zandri has set a minimum fundraising goal of $30,000. The deadline to get that private funding to the town is May 31, he said, to allow time for scheduling and booking.

If funding is secured in time, the fireworks show will be held on July 6. Zandri said there is no rain date.

“You can’t justify a reason for not having this event,” Zandri said.


  1. What do you mean that "You can’t justify a reason for not having this event" I have have some wast of taxpayers money, waste of time and dangerous I have herd many reports where people got injured at fireworks events.

  2. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a show related, fireworks related, injury at the Wallingford Fireworks celebration.

    We'll agree to disagree. There are 10,000 plus every year that attend the event that also would disagree.

    So what are your thoughts about all the other civic groups that receive some or all of their funding from the town? Are those also a waste that should be cut out?

  3. I would have to review each individual before I can say yes or no.

  4. also keep in mind money is tight it should be used were it does the most goo for the most people.

  5. So should Celebrate Wallingford be cancelled as well? The Seasons of Celebrations and Holiday Stroll?

    What about Twilight Tunes on the parade grounds every summer?

  6. if the town get a return on its investment no if not I say yes.

  7. Every single one of those things I just mentioned is an expenditure and costs the town money. There are booth fees for Celebrate but they do not cover anywhere near the costs.

    What Wallingford gets from it by having community events cannot be measured in dollars. It's like the Master Card commercial "priceless".

    Celebrate Wallingford, The Fireworks, Twilight Tunes and so forth present an opportunity for the community to come together during these events.

    Without a community then Wallingford is just a town where there are businesses, industry, and then dwellings where people live and that's it.

    Like I said - we'll have to agree to disagree.

    So if you are one of those many median priced homeowners here in town I hope you are enjoying that $1.30 the administration saved you this year because that is all it costs the average taxpayer to fund the fireworks.

  8. It is very nice to spend others people money but most people are struggling to get by day by day and pay the bills and that is a fact that has to be considered in todays economy.

  9. When my Church has a get togethers we rent a hall get all the food and the cost is divided among all the participants NOT the whole congregation and that is the fair way to do it.

  10. By your line of thinking then, something like the Senior Center should have been billed only to the seniors that use it and not the whole town and the seniors that do not use it.Then as new members join (reach that age) they should be given some level of bill to pay in for the use of the facility.

    As you state - "just the participants"

    Things for a municipality are never that cut and dried I am afraid.

    The fireworks is attended by an estimated 10,000 between everyone that gathers on the grounds and in the nearby neighborhoods. Except for Celebrate Wallingford, there is no other event that draws 25% of the town populace.

    It's a worthwhile tradition to keep and such a minor part of the budget that it is laughable to defend the cutting of it when there are so many other obvious areas where more money could be saved.

  11. It seems to me that when it come to spending taxpayers money you have an answer to every thing if all politicians in this country work half as hard trying to save money as they do spending it there would be no deficits in any state in the country. thanks and nice talking to you.

  12. I don't always have "the" answer but when I don't have one I try to come up with one - that is what problem solvers do.

    It's been a nice conversation with you as well and I look forward to the next exchange.

    Have a good weekend.