Friday, April 10, 2015

Support the Wallingford Fireworks Fund effort–donate via PAYPAL

We need all the help we can get – please see our past posts for all the details.

Any amount is helpful; it only takes a dollar to pitch in (but we wouldn’t turn away a large donation either Smile  )

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wallingford 4th of July Independence Day Celebration donation letters are in the mail

Below is a screen shot of the letter that was mailed today and directly below is the text of the same.



Wallingford Fireworks Fund
Jason Zandri
35 Lincoln Drive EXT
Wallingford, CT 06492

I wanted to drop this letter to you to express my personal thanks once again for your past support to the Wallingford Fireworks Fund and the Wallingford 4th of July Independence Day Celebration.

The efforts of the past five years have allowed the Wallingford Fireworks Fund, with your help, to save Wallingford’s Independence Day celebration. Together, we have raised nearly $130,000 to continually save the event as shown by the cost outline below.

Fireworks Show



Police Overtime



Fire Department / Overtime






Fire Marshall



Public Works



Board of Ed



R Band and Sound




Five Year Total



The fireworks show for 2015 has again gone unfunded by the town. The difference for 2015 is that The Fund is only making the effort to raise the $16,500 for the pyrotechnics (fireworks) without any consideration for the town services. We have made it clear to the town that as an organization, we will not be collecting for the town services. We are the only non-profit that gets charged in full for town services and while we have always felt that was an inequity there was little we could do to change that. The town was never interested in funding those costs and merely took the stance “do it all or the celebration will not be held.”

The Town of Wallingford still has not budgeted for those costs. None of the departments have asked for nor been granted the additional overtime into their budgets.

With that, we are rolling the dice. The Fund is going to leave it to the Town Council to make the adjustments in the budgets to cover the approximate costs of $15,000 for the town services. The additional risks here are there may not be the votes on the Council to add the amounts needed to cover the services OR that if they do, the Mayor may still veto the Council budget, which restores his back – the one without the costs to cover the overtime.

As outlined, the 2015 campaign effort has a total fundraising goal of $16,500; if we cannot collect this amount by the last Friday in May, per the Mayor’s timeline for when the funds are due, the show will not occur. If the amount IS raised and Wallingford does not provide services (police, fire, public works, etc.) the show will not occur.

In years past, we always voted that if the funding could not be raised we would roll the funds forward to the following year. We never had to do that. The voting this year was that if we should not be able to have a show, for either of the reasons above, we would donate the funds to another non-profit (as allowed under law) and dissolve the 501 © 3 as the message would be clear – this is too minor of an issue for 47,000 citizens to invest a dollar and a minute of time to donate it, to save a celebration that’s been occurring in this town for over five decades.

We have steadfastly believed differently for five years. A few of us have worked over 1,000 hours in total to make this happen. The others have worked several hundred hours. We believe differently, even today, but we want to be clear, open, and transparent as to what actions will occur given certain outcomes.

So with that known, we move forward. Enclosed separately are our advertising rates for our 2015 program guide along with the rates for formal sponsorship of the 2015 event at varying levels if you or anyone you know can and wish to support us at those levels.

The 2015 Sponsor Book will be handed out at ALL fundraising events (after first printing planned for the first week of May), this includes the Paint Night for Charity fundraiser and any other events we'll be having until the July 4th fireworks show. (If there are still copies remaining for Celebrate Wallingford 2015 we'll hand them out there as well).

As of today we have set the date for the Paint Night for Charity for Wednesday May 20, 2015. There is also an enclosed flyer with that information as well.

If you have any capacity and / or desire to continue to help us with the efforts in keeping this grand Wallingford family tradition alive please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Spreading the word to friends and neighbors that might support the efforts is always welcome as well.

If you wish to donate, you can drop a note to us with your donation. You can keep up to date with everything we have going on by visiting our blog at

Thank you again for your past support and our ongoing efforts.

Jason Zandri
President – Wallingford Fireworks Fund

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Mayor's budget does NOT include overtime costs for the town services; next move is the Town Council's

I called Police Chief William Wright this morning to simply confirm what I had suspected (as it's been par for the course since 2010) - the Police Department did not add consideration to their overtime budget request to take into account the costs of the services for the fireworks and the Wallingford Independence Day celebration. I did not call the other departments (Fire, Public Works, etc.) because it is unlikely they broke from recent procedure either.

With that, and due to the fact that Mayor Dickinson also did not add funding to those line items (overtime), there is no money allocated to the department budgets for the service costs for the event.

The approximate burden in total from all departments is $14,000. Based on the prior mill rate and property tax figures that is approximately a .35% increase charge per property owner.

The cost of that is SEVENTY CENTS on the 
median valued residential property owner. That is the amount of taxes that are being saved by not affording this cost for the event. 

One mill raises about four million dollars. That burden to the median valued residential property owner (a home appraised at about $290,000 and assessed at 70% of that or about $200,000 for the purposes of taxes) is $200 in increased taxes.
If taxes needed to be raised to fund the $14,000 (and they don't - we returned $760,000 to the general fund from last year; taxes charged to all property owners but went unspent) but if they HAD to be so as to NOT going into our TWENTY MILLION DOLLAR SAVINGS ACCOUNT (made up of your unspent taxes from years of over taxation) then it would be a SEVENTY CENT BURDEN to have the event for the median valued residential property owner

From here, pretty much the last step that can be practically taken is for the Town Council, when discussing those department budgets either add the amounts needed to the overtime line items OR to place another department to be responsible for those costs and to increase their budget to that accordingly.

The next move is the Town Council's.

If no action is taken, there will be no show on the west side of town, on the grounds of the schools for 2015, regardless of whether The Fund raises the $16,500 for the fireworks (the aerial pyrotechnics) or not.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Has Wallingford committed to fund the department overtime once The Fund donated the $16,500

I got this question on Facebook today and I offered the explanation (below) in the thread as an answer. Since it is a topical question I thought it made since to strip it out and post it here for reference.

QUESTION - Has Wallingford committed to fund the department overtime once The Fund donated the $16,500


ANSWER - The town has not as far as I know. When I last spoke with the Mayor and the Council there are no funds added to the department budgets for that overtime.

If nothing changes, and The Fund successfully collects the $16,500 (a 38% increase of costs from 2014), the town will not have the department overtime funds in the budget to pay for the show. That means there would be no show on the school grounds.

That is where we are presently (and I am placing a call to the Mayor to confirm my information as I have it and explain it below)

Now - what can happen:

-- The Town Council could change the budget to add the funds.
-- Five votes are needed to pass (I personally believe 5 votes exist to make that happen).

-- If they do, the changed budget (for that reason or others) could be vetoed by the Mayor
-- If a veto occurs the Council Budget would be vetoed and the Mayor's Budget would be restored (without the funding).
-- That COULD be overturned but it requires 7 Council votes
-- I do not believe there would be more than five votes to overturn the veto
-- A Mayoral veto has never been overturned (if my memory serves)

So it is likely the Council will add the funds for the overtime.

There is still a likelihood that too many budget changes would compel the Mayor to veto the budget.

With that, the show will be cancelled and not allowed to happen in conjunction with the town on the school grounds – this is regardless of whether or not we fund the $16,500.

This is a long answer but it's necessary to understand all the facets.

If it was totally the Mayor's decision, the show would be dead on the school grounds because he did not entertain the overtime for the town departments to cover their own costs.

Once the fate of the budget is fully decided we will know for sure.

As an aside, The Fund is looking at "Plan B" which would be "what if The Fund collects the $16,500 and the town doesn't host the show?" We are attempting to find a private location in town (farm, corporate property, etc) where we could get permission as "The Fund" to host the show ourselves.

But that is an ugly issue for a number of reasons.

For one, it will take the show off the West Side of town where it has been since the 70s.

The other ugly truth is, I have a few locations that can work (and they are limited because of the size needed) and the fact of the matter is our local government frightens people (and that should not be the case).

"I have a variance coming up with P&Z; I'd love to help but I am worried about retribution."

"I just appealed my taxes and got them adjusted; I don't want to have another issue this year; revaluation is coming up and I may not be heard fairly. If I need to go to the Board of Appeals and I have an issue with them, then I need to spend time and money in court. I'd love to help but I really can't expose my business."

So the sad truth is that between the administration's resistance to this from the get go, and the overall death grip the local government has on property owners in town, having this show just gets harder and harder to do.

Collecting $16,500, while difficult in its own right, is almost the easier part.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Collecting at the Landfill / Donate by Paypal / Paint Night for Charity

We’ll be collecting at the Landfill TODAY (Saturday 4/4) until noon; if you want to swing by and make a donation that would be great.

March was brutal weather-wise and we have only been able to raise $2,183.20; we need $16,500.00 just the fireworks this year (a 38% increase over the 2014 rate) so we have just eight more weeks to raise the additional $14,316.80.

If you cannot get out there, you can donate via Paypal as well:

If you prefer mailing in a check that can be done via:

Wallingford Fireworks Fund
c/o Jason Zandri
35 Lincoln Drive EXT
Wallingford CT 06492

I also want to take the time now to remind you about the Wallingford's 12 Months of Giving group (Wallingford ChariTree) – they are sponsoring the Wallingford Fireworks Fund in MAY with a Paint Night for Charity and tickets are on sale for that night now. Here are all the additional details on our event:

Paint Night for Charity for the Wallingford Fireworks Fund

Wednesday, May 20 at 7:00pm - 9:00pm Jakes Tavern LLC

179 Center St, Wallingford, Connecticut 06492

Our charity for May is the Wallingford Fireworks Fund. For five years the people of Wallingford have raised tens of thousands of dollars to keep the fireworks show going to celebrate Independence Day.

Read more about the Wallingford Fireworks Fund here:
or visit our blog

Tickets are $45 and are limited to 40 people on a first come, first serve basis.

Tickets can be purchased through Pat Harriman at
Harriman Real Estate, LLC, 116 Center Street, Wallingford.
Cash or make checks payable to Pat Harriman.

Artist Karen Ciocca from Moonflower Studio will teach us how to paint our fireworks over liberty scene.

Please be sure to patronize our generous venue donor Jakes Tavern LLC!

So we hope you will keep thinking about The Fund and making us a consideration over the next two months as we keep our dialog open with Mayor Dickinson. The budget for next year is out. I will be calling his office on Monday to confirm the status of town services overtime and whether or not he and the departments included it for the show. (The Fund paid for these from 2010 – 2014; we are not committing the resources to them this year – this prior blog post has all the details). From there I will move forward on any actions or efforts we need to take.

Top priority (or else it’s all moot) is to raise the $16,500 and that is the focus.

Thank you again for all your past support and anything that you can do continuing forward.