Fireworks show cancelled

The Madera City Council voted Wednesday to cancel this year’s 4th of July fireworks extravaganza at The Madera golf course.

Council Member Charles Rigby began the discussion of the fireworks show by questioning the affordability of the $25,000 or more the city would have to pay for fireworks. Parks and Community Services Director Mary Anne Seay had requested permission to sign a contract with Devastating Pyrotechnics LLC, a company the city has worked with in the past.

When questioned about the probable cost, she said it could range between $25,000 and $35,000, with the city bearing most of the expense.

She said it was tough this year to get donors to help.

“We’re seeing some financial dips in funding this year,” she said, “and we’re getting some hard no’s.”

She said another part of the cost problem would be overtime that had to be paid to city staff.

“We spend a lot of staff time on this,” she said, “beginning tomorrow until the 6th of July. There’s a potential for hiring outside help, but perhaps it is a little too late to put together. It’s an event that has a lot of logistics to it. It would be very difficult to pass it off to another organization at this time.”

Council Member Jose Rodriguez agreed that it might be a good thing to set the event aside for a year.

“We are going through a challenging time where we are facing a deficit.”

Rigby wondered whether more money could be raised at the event itself by charging entry and parking fees.

“We have analyzed that, and decided against it for safety reasons,” Seay said.

“There is no single place of entry. People come in from the orchards. They park on the roads outside the golf course. We put a donation pot out one year, and it had only a few bucks in it when the event was over.”

Rigby said he would be amenable to “tabling” the event for this year, but “I would hate to see this leave our community forever.”

The event was cancelled when the council declined to approve the contract with the pyrotechnics company.

In other business, the council:

• Tentatively approved the annual distribution of Community Development Block Grant funds, provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;

• Approved an employment agreement with acting Police Chief Dino Lawson, making him permanent police chief, replacing Steve Frazier, who retired to become interim city administrator when former City Administrator David Tooley retired.

• Voted to approve a project between Madera Irrigation District and the City of Madera that would store excess irrigation water, when it is available, underground for mutual benefit.

The next meeting of the City Council is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 6.